Staff Picks: Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

Gold Fame Citrus book coverCarol from Community Services suggests Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

In a parched southern California of the near future, Luz, once the poster child for the country’s conservation movement, and Ray, an army deserter turned surfer, are squatting in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Armed vigilantes have prevented these desert refugees from freely crossing borders to lusher regions. Holdouts like Ray and Luz subsist on rationed cola and water, and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.

When Luz and Ray cross paths with a mysterious child, they set out for the safety of the east. But they are waylaid by a cult that has formed a colony in a mysterious sea of dunes.

In this hyper-lyrical dystopian fantasy, you can feel the sand between your teeth, the dirt crawling on your skin, and the taste of precious black-market fruit. The quest for gold and fame and citrus has fueled our drive west for centuries. In Watkins’ novel the west is a place where our ambitions and limitations give rise to a whirling cloud of dust that can either engulf or redeem, and shows us a way to hope in a precarious future that may be our own.

For more dystopian literature try…

Oryx and Crake book cover
The Year of the Flood book cover
MaddAdam book cover


Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam make up a three-book series on the effects of genetic engineering and environmental disaster. Through expert world-building and strange but sympathetic characters, Atwood asks us to think about how technology and society will continue to influence each other.

Life as We Knew It book cover

While Life as We Knew It is a young adult novel, author Susan Beth Pfeffer captures the attention of all ages as she imagines what would happen on earth if a meteor knocked the moon out of orbit.A Canticle for Leibowitz book cover

Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A Canticle for Leibowitz set a standard for dystopian literature. In this post-apocalyptic tale, the human race starts over again after a nuclear catastrophe. But can we keep from making the same mistakes the second time around?