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These days, it’s hard to find a pestilence that inspires. Ebola, West Nile—they all seem so passé. But there is something about the crusty, oozing boils of the bubonic plague that endures. And there’s nothing like a death-wagon trolling the neighborhood to make you want to seize the day. Which is exactly what Anna, the heroine of Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague does when her tiny English village is besieged by the Black Death. Her family dead, Anna carries the village through a dismal season of horrifying, pus-filled deaths and grows from a frail teenage widow into a fearless young woman (managing a few lusty tumbles in the process). The novel’s author, Geraldine Brooks, has worked as a news correspondent in Gaza and Baghdad, but a visit to the isolated English village of Eyam—which suffered a plague year in 1666—struck her personally and inspired the book: It seems that the whole awful story reminded her of her own burg in rural Virginia. She’ll be in town at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Shauna Miller)