Pandemic Files


The Yale Review’s new feature “Pandemic Files" aims to capture life in the age of the novel coronavirus. We have asked writers to send dispatches from around the world and from their disparate realms of experience. This folio, which will be regularly updated, will be a place where we can come together to think alongside one another—encapsulating the experiences, questions, and news of the moment in writing.

Zimbabwe's hospitals are woefully unequipped for the pandemic, but the nation's citizens can't afford to stay inside.

Khameer Kidia 

“People are starving to death,” my mother argues over Skype when I praise the stringent lockdown.

If funerals show a society's endurance, ours is coming apart.

Kathryn Lofton 

Every child knows that when something dies it should receive a funeral.

I was supposed to spend this week celebrating my graduation from Yale. Instead, I’m learning stories my immigrant family has never told before.

Meghana Mysore 

Despite the language about new beginnings, most of us are “moving on” but not moving.

When my father died of AIDS, he couldn’t shield me from his pain or the government's indifference. With COVID-19, I'm reliving the trauma.

Emily Ziff Griffin 

In 1987, when I was eight years old, the same age my daughter is now, my father—a vibrant, 37-year-old gay man—was diagnosed with AIDS.

Maya C. Popa 

Time persists, yes, I can see there are new branches.

Matthias Göritz, translated by Mary Jo Bang 

I’m off to see people living the life
on the edge of the breaking day

My aunt survived the Blitz and an orphanage, and taught me how to endure my partner's death. When coronavirus took her, she gave me one final lesson.

Rachel Jamison Webster 

Survival, she kept showing me, is intimately related to creativity.

I thought escaping to France would preserve my children's innocence. It wasn't that easy.

Natasha Randall 

I am translating the pandemic for my children into terms that suit their nascent psyches.

335 new diseases emerged between 1960 and 2004. Why weren't we ready for this one?

Frank Snowden 

The world was not mobilized to confront COVID-19 when it came, even though it had been long foreseen.

I was afraid I was losing my future. Now I'm afraid of losing my family.

Eric O'Keefe-Krebs 

Now, the room I devoted my life to getting out of is where I go to college.

I now go to Yale via webcam. Class is fine. It's college that's missing.

Sean Lynch 

Liberal education is not merely an ethos; it is also an aesthetic

When the home itself can kill

Emmeline Clein  

The health consequences of the coronavirus, like the consequences of Katrina, will not be measurable only in direct mortality outcomes.

Dreams of connection in quarantine

Brandon Shimoda 

I trust my dreams. I trust them especially when I do not trust myself.

The crisis in New York City

Briallen Hopper 

Each of the hundreds of overlapping, shrieking, keening wails represents a life, and perhaps soon, the sounds of mourning that life.

The two worlds of social distancing

Octávio Luiz Motta Ferraz 

Depending on the scale of inequalities in your society—the real social distance—and where you stand economically, your chances of riding out a pandemic will vary significantly.

Finding words for this pandemic in Inupiaq

Joan Naviyuk Kane 

Have the governments imposed upon my family—municipal, state, and federal—ever responded constructively to disasters?

The novel coronavirus exposes health care’s key weakness

Rena Xu 

Historically, change has not been our medical system’s strong suit.

Alicia Christoff 

The U.S. is getting serious about social distancing and I am trying to have a baby

Epidemics and the law

John Witt 

The real supreme law is not our health, but our fecklessness.

A doctor reflects on the dread of coronavirus

Nitin Ahuja 

Against the grain of age-related mortality curves, there runs the still scarier notion that when faced with exposure, some of us might be preconfigured for doom.

Vulnerability, contagion, and children

Miranda Featherstone 

I don’t wish that it had come for the children, this novel coronavirus. But would things be different if it had?

A doctor on the front lines

Laura Kolbe 

If you have enough infantry, you can countenance a good deal of loss.