“Fever” by Deon Meyer: the novel which announced a global pandemic of coronavirus

Published in 2017, the novel by South African writer Deon Meyer, “Fever”, talks about a coronavirus pandemic that ravaged all rich and poor countries, leaving behind dead, many dead, and in record time. The year is 2020 and more than a third of humanity is confined because of a global pandemic of coronavirus / Covid-19, so we say that fiction could quickly turn into reality.

Deon Meyer

In his novel, Deon Meyer calls this pandemic “Fever” with a capital F. “The Fever was a tsunami epidemic” and “despite the protocols, systems and vaccines, despite the panicked activity of virologists and epidemiologists, centres for disease control and prevention, decisions of governments and military interventions – and sometimes because of some of these actions – the Fever decimated ninety-five percent of the world’s population. In just a few months”, he wrote.

The writer who is from South Africa, took four years to write this nearly 600-page book with 120 chapters and five main parts: Year of the Dog; Year of the Raven; Year of the Jackal; Year of the Pig; Year of the Lion. The book was published in 2016 under the title “Koors” at Éditions Human & Rousseau before being translated into English and published in 2017 under the title “Fever”.

However, by reading the first pages of the book, it seems like reading, listening or seeing a report on the current pandemic of coronavirus / Covid-19 in the world: “How to tell the Fever? Impossible to describe. It was the same for everyone. We see the news on TV and we hear it on the radio, and we think, no, they will stop it before it happens in our country, but we wonder about that and we’re a little scared. Like with Ebola, one or two years before the Fever. But you tell yourself, we live in the era of science, they will probably find a solution, and you do not worry too much. Until England and the United States cancel the flights and declare a state of emergency. So we’re worried because it has never been this serious before. And then the virus is there and we think, they will have to hurry, and for the first time, we’re really scared (…)”.


Deon Meyer surrounded himself with several people to write “Fever”, among them Professor Wolfgang Preiser (director of the virology section of the Pathology Department, University of Stellenbosch) to whom he asked to invent a virus, the famous coronavirus.

The main character is Nicolas Storm. This teenager will tell the life story alongside his father Willem and some survivors of this global catastrophe. Throughout the pages, the reader attends scenes related to the organization of this new community called Amanzi located somewhere in South Africa with: school education, loss of faith in God, organization of democratic elections, economic organization, need for love, climate change, malnutrition, looting, armed defence, etc.

Finally, we learn that this virus that decimated the world is a mixture of coronavirus made in a laboratory by a secret organization, Gaia One, which brings together scientists, businessmen, politicians, technologists, doctors, soldiers who wanted to create a better world by ridding the earth of the great scourges caused by man’s selfishness (poverty, ocean and air pollution, deforestation, loss of species, global warming etc.), but at what price?

“Fever” shows us that sometimes a thin layer separates fiction from reality…