The Plague was originally published in 1947 in French as La Peste. It is a novel written by the late Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, Albert Camus, and has revived in popularity due to its relevance in 2020 amidst the Global COVID-19 Pandemic. The story is of a plague sweeping the French Algerian city of Oran, in which the characters who range from doctors to vacationers to fugitives, all help to show the effects that the plague has on a populace. It poses many philosophical questions relating to the nature of destiny and the human condition.
The story is believed to be inspired by the cholera epidemic that killed a large percentage of Oran's population in 1849 following French colonization. Sadly, Oran and its surrounding areas were struck by disease multiple times in history. According to a research report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oran was decimated by the plague in 1556 and 1678, but fortunately all later outbreaks, in 1921 (185 cases), 1931 (76 cases), and 1944 (95 cases), were very far from the scale of the pandemic described in the novel.
The Plague is considered an existentialist classic despite Camus' objection to the label.