Part 8. Ilija Trojanow’s Lamentations of Zeno
Welcome to Eco-fiction.com’s and Dragonfly’s global eco-fiction series. In part 8, we travel to the Antarctic as I talk with Ilija Trojanow, author of Lamentations of Zeno (Verso Books, 2016). Lamentations is an extraordinary evocation of the fragile and majestic wonders to be found at a far corner of the globe, written by a novelist who is a renowned travel writer. Poignant and playful, the novel recalls the experimentation of high-modernist fiction without compromising a limpid sense of place or the pace of its narrative. It is a portrait of a man in extremis, a haunting and at times irreverent tale that approaches the greatest challenge of our age—perhaps of our entire history as a species—from an impassioned human angle.
Though the idea behind this series is not new–something I’ve been planning for a while–I’ve recently been enjoying Adam Kirsch’s The Global Novel: Writing the World in the 21st Century.
In his book, Kirsch states:
The global novel exists, not as a genre separated from and opposed to other kinds of fiction, but as a perspective that governs the interpretation of experience. In this way, it is faithful to the way the global is actually lived–not through the abolition of place, but as a theme by which place is mediated. Life lived here is experienced in its profound and often unsettling connections with life lived elsewhere, and everywhere. The local gains dignity, and significance, insofar as it can be seen as a part of a worldwide phenomenon.
One of the things eco-fiction is concerned about is the environmental destruction of the planet. World eco-fiction lifts the gaze above the norm and into a worldly perspective in which authors and artists understand that ecological collapse is both a global concern and a local one. In essence, it’s something everyone is or will be affected by, yet in different ways. It’s this concept that drives the new global eco-fiction series. I’ve always been intrigued by diversity yet common ground–cultural differences yet universal understandings. I believe in travel through imagination, people world-round working together to mitigate such catastrophes as climate change, extinction, and dwindling biodiversity.