Five Fascinating Facts about The Hunger Games
1. The idea for The Hunger Games came to author Suzanne Collins while channel-hopping between coverage of the invasion of Iraq and a reality TV show. The idea began to form in her mind of a narrative which concerned a televised fight to the death. The theme of the series has led critics to draw comparisons with similar works, principally Battle Royale, a 1999 novel by Japanese author Koushun Takami, but the idea of a dystopian future world in which people fight each other as part of a television programme is found in a novel by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman), The Running Man (1982).
2. The author of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins, was one of the writers on the 1990s teen TV show Clarissa Explains It All. Collins worked in television for many years during the 1990s; her other television writing credits included Clifford’s Puppy Days and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo.
3. Panem, the setting for The Hunger Games, takes its name from the Latin phrase ‘panem et circenses’ meaning ‘bread and circuses’. This is a reference to a superficial means of appeasing the people – by providing food and entertainment for the ‘masses’. The Latin phrase first appears in Juvenal’s Satires, where Juvenal argues that the easiest way to win people over in politics is through rather crass means: cheap food and plenty of games. As the title, The Hunger Games, demonstrates, both of these things are central to Collins’s novel (and the trilogy as a whole: the other two books in the series are Catching Fire and Mockingjay).
4. Collins’s series is Amazon’s biggest-selling book series ever. This was announced in August 2012: The Hunger Games had officially outsold the seven-part Harry Potter series on Amazon. Not only this, but Amazon announced in March 2012 that Collins was the biggest-selling author on Kindle, outselling E. L. James (and her Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy).
5. The classical story of Theseus is central to The Hunger Games. Collins has mentioned this in interviews about the series. The classical myth describes how Athens would send seven youths of each gender to the Labyrinth to be devoured by the Minotaur. Theseus, the king’s son, volunteers himself, and this is what Katniss Everdeen does in Collins’s series. Collins has described Katniss as ‘a futuristic Theseus’. This allusion to classical mythology is, along with Panem, and the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome, one of many classical references in Collins’s series.
Image: The Hunger Games design © 2013 DeviantArt (labelled for reuse).