I vividly remembered the summer I first read George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel, 1984. It was included on a summer reading list that my college wanted all incoming freshmen to read. I was already familiar with Animal Farm, having read it in my sophomore, junior and senior year of high school because my English teachers loved having us read it (George Bush was our President!)
Back to “1984.” It was the darkest book, I’d ever read. It haunted me, and was all I could think of that summer.
In George Orwell’s world, people are under constant surveillance by Big Brother. The protagonist, Winston Smith’s job is to rewrite past newspaper articles to support the ruling party, aptly called, Inner Party. He lives in a world where there is thoughtcrime - "criminal act of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question the ruling party." Yes. Thoughtcrime! Individualism and free thinking are persecuted, there’s an ongoing war and there are refugees dying at sea. Sounds familiar?
After that summer, I shoved 1984 to the very back of my bookcase. It was too much for my young mind. I was in denial. But I will be picking it up back again because we’re already living in a similar world, with the rise of Donald Trump, and his loyalists who don’t believe in the truth, but instead deal in lies and “alternative facts.” He leads an elite group of bodies who believe that anyone who doesn’t look and talk like them is an outsider and the enemy.UPDATE ON 4/18/17:
As of today, “1984” is #74 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List.