The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every country around the world in a manner not seen since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, and is perhaps one of the most transformative events in decades. Most countries and governments have played catch-up to the pandemic, trying to get a handle on case numbers after an explosive increase. But a few places: Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam and China appear to have kept the virus largely under control.

It began in January as a trip to see his ailing grandfather. But while  Canadian journalist Ethan Lou was in the air between Toronto and Beijing, China quarantined the entire city of Wuhan due to a new virus raging out of control. Lou landed to a new world. The COVID-19 name hadn’t  yet been coined, but everything had nonetheless already changed. Like most of the world back then, Lou did not foresee how the coronavirus would spiral forth to every corner of the world. But he quickly comes to terms with how nothing will ever be the same.

If 2020 ends up being remembered as a pivotal year along the lines of 1914, perhaps as the year the 21st century actually began, COVID-19 is likely to be the main cause. Much of what was considered “normal” in everything from everyday life to geopolitics has been swept away. What hasn’t changed, however, is that publishing, like nature, abhors a vacuum: books on the subject have already started to arrive.