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Are we deranged? The acclaimed Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that future generations may well think so. How else to explain our imaginative failure in the face of global warming? In his first major book of nonfiction since In an Antique Land, Ghosh examines our inability–at the level of literature, history, and politics–to grasp the scale and violence of climate change. The extreme nature of today’s climate events, Ghosh asserts, make them peculiarly resistant to contemporary modes of thinking and imagining. This is particularly true of serious literary fiction: hundred-year storms and freakish tornadoes simply feel too improbable for the novel; they are automatically consigned to other genres. In the writing of history, too, the climate crisis has sometimes led to gross simplifications; Ghosh shows that the history of the carbon economy is a tangled global story with many contradictory and counterintuitive elements. Ghosh ends by suggesting that politics, much like literature, has become a matter of personal moral reckoning rather than an arena of collective action. But to limit fiction and politics to individual moral adventure comes at a great cost. The climate crisis asks us to imagine other forms of human existence–a task to which fiction, Ghosh argues, is the best suited of all cultural forms. His book serves as a great writer’s summons to confront the most urgent task of our time.
About the Author
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and spent his childhood in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and northern India. He studied in Delhi and Egypt and at Oxford and taught at various Indian and American universities. The author of five non-fiction books and eight acclaimed novels, Ghosh has also written for Granta, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Observer. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children. His titles Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire received critical acclaim.
A contemporary story of adventure and romance, identity and history brings two outsiders deep into the tiny islands known as the Sundarbans off the coast of India where life is ruled by the unforgiving tides and the constant threat of attack by Bengal tigers.