In Katarina Bivald’s book, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend–which I reviewed last month–a small town is suffering the consequence of a mass exodus of its population. In the questions and attitudes of its remaining residents one can find the way such a exodus affects them; faced with their pain I found myself wondering how it could be alleviated.
I felt that The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is, in a way, an exploration of what small town life can be like and how it can change an individual like Sara. A lot has been said about the pros and cons of small town versus large city life. In particular, one pro to small town life is how tight a community can get, whereas a big city often becomes a place where community-life disappears. I asked Katarina what she thinks of the big city versus small town debate, and how she hopes her book will contribute to the conversation.
Big city versus Small Town: Thoughts from Author Katarina Bivald
I don’t have any answers at all in the debate, which I think can be a contribution in itself. For me, stories are meant to raise questions rather than provide answers.
Story-wise, I like to write books set in small towns, since it’s an easy way of making sure that people of varying backgrounds and opinions and hang ups and experiences and so forth are forced to meet, whether they like to or not.
Personally, real life-wise, I think the interesting question is how we create open and equal communities – with strong ties not for their own sake, but to be able to help people. And that’s a human challenge, I think, and a human goal. For small towns and big cities alike.