The cover of Severance.

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Independent bookstores have been hit especially hard by COVID-19, since they’re now unable to provide the usual experience of in-store perusing and author readings. Booksellers like Emilie Sommer of East City Bookshop have had to get creative to engage their local community of readers. Along with offering Stay at Home Surprise Packs of uniquely curated books and literary merch, Sommer has moved East City Bookshop’s book clubs online. This weekend’s meeting of the New Fiction Book Club will discuss Ling Ma’s post-apocalyptic satire Severance. Set in an alternate version of 2011, the novel centers on Candace Chen, an office worker in New York struggling to maintain her regular routine as the world succumbs to a pandemic (sound familiar?). While tinged with humor, Severance explores how a global crisis impacts immigrant identity, labor, and the pursuit of power, making it a perfect pick for a meaty discussion. East City Bookshop’s other book clubs include a Gilmore Girls-inspired group, a 21+ club dedicated to wine and YA, and even a club dedicated to cookbooks. The New Fiction Book Club meets at 4 p.m. on Oct. 25. To register, email Emilie Sommer at Free.