In Chapter 2 of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair writes: "The line of the buildings stood clear-cut and black against the sky; here and there out of the mass rose the great chimneys, with the river of smoke streaming away to the end of the world."
The setting in a novel can draw you in, take you beyond the realm of the immediate situation, into the unknown. There's mystery, there... and danger, with the dichotomy of city versus nature, the Victorian tower versus turf. In The Jungle, we see the destructive (and stomach-turning) qualities of a meat-packing industry--in a novel that changed regulatory practices.
It's NEVER enough, it seems. We still hear the stories of food-bourne illness, the insane practices in schools an.
In his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, William Golding said, "A novel ensures that we can look before and after, take action at whatever pace we choose, read again and again, skip and go back. The story in a book is humble and serviceable, available, friendly, is not switched on and off but taken up and put down, lasts a lifetime."
Cover Art © Farrar, Straus and Giroux.