Part I. Jeff VanderMeer | Part II. Margaret Atwood | Part III. Nathaniel Rich | Part IV. Emmi Itäranta | Part V. Kim Stanley Robinson | Part VI. Ursula K. Le Guin | Part VII. Ali Smith | Part VIII. Peter Heller | Part IX. John Atcheson | Part X. Jo Marshall | Part XI. Brian Burt | Part XII. Barbara Kingsolver | Part XIII. Susan M. Gaines | Part XIV. Morgan Nyberg | Part XV. Review and Writing Tips | Part XVI. Clara Hume | Part XVII. Paolo Bacigalupi | Part XVIII. Jaimee Wriston Colbert | Part XIX. Kathleen Dean Moore | Part XX. John KixMiller and team from Protectors of the Wood | Part XXI. Writers & Big Oil
October 9, 2016
The purpose of the author spotlight series is to highlight major authors who write fiction that deals with global warming. Many scholars argue that climate change is now everything change. That writing about it is often not a separate subject or genre because it is so interconnected to all life on the planet. Author Margaret Atwood noted that climate change is “everything change” too. This site recognizes this concept in totality, that we are now living in the Anthropocene where climate change is entirely ubiquitous in every aspect of life for everyone on Earth. For the purposes of literary study, and because many authors have blazed the trail in bringing climate change into literature, this series exists. These spotlights explore the diversity of storytelling that involves climate change. Yet, I believe that in the future, global warming will be a part of every story; in that sense, this site is an evolutionary and transitory one from this era to whatever lies beyond.
This project has long been in the back of my mind–to spotlight popular authors on this site in order to help readers identify the most notable works in such a large sea/database. I decided to add this spotlight as a series sooner than later because of the recent news about Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement. This nonfiction book of powerful essays by the brilliant writer points out: “The author examines the failures of storytelling, history and politics that have led humanity to its current predicament in the form of today’s climate crisis.”  In the same interview in The Wire, he states, “I’m looking at the novel as a symptom of a broader imaginative failure.” Authors, however, are tackling climate change in both literary and genre fiction, and in a serious way.
It is possible that Ghosh calling the novel “a symptom of broader imaginative failure” has a parcel of truth, but I want to be a little more positive. Perhaps fiction authors have not yet totally dented the conversation about climate change, but they are starting to. Is Amitav Ghosh correct when he says there is a lack of imaginative response? There is not a lack in storytelling, in the novel, but he also seems to speak of it in terms of journalistic integrity. In Scroll.in he talks about immediate response vs. the larger issue of derangement. The subtitle of the piece, however, is: “Where are the novels, poetry and art about traumatic climate change, asks the acclaimed author.” Just for starters, see our book database, list of resources, and article titled “Climate Themes in Arts.”
This series will spotlight an author every few weeks, and is also linked on our Google+ page for discussion and at our Facebook group. There are already hundreds of such authors listed in the database I’ve built, but we should talk about them here. Let’s give these authors credit for telling stories about climate change–they have been for decades. All of them together have built this library of works and have brought climate change into the scope of fiction, through the lens of hope, warning, imagination, horror, and even, at times, humor.
The featured image is of Helon Habila, author of Oil on Water. Photo: Flickr/BBC World Service
The Wire. Interview: Amitav Ghosh on the Novels, Commerce and Sociology of Climate Change, by Shreya Ila Anasuya. July 22, 2016.
Scroll.in. Even as we are destroying ourselves, we think we are the only things that matter: Amitav Ghosh, by Nayantara Narayanan. July 30, 2016.
New Statesman. How global warming has frozen fiction, by Neel Mukherjee. October 4, 2016.
Author: Mary Woodbury
Original publication date: October 9, 2016 – updated every few weeks to add new spotlighted authors.