Where’s the Great 'Climate Change Novel'?

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Steve's conversation with novelist Amitav Ghosh — original part of our show on imagining climate change through the lens of literature — is currently featured in the LA Review of Books. Here's an excerpt from the edited Q&A.

The evidence of climate change is all around us — record temperatures, superstorms, the crack in the Larsen B Ice Shelf. The news keep getting grimmer, and once you really take in the worst-case scenarios of the next few decades, it’s hard not to feel numb. But if global warming is the most pressing problem facing the planet, why do we see so few references to it in contemporary novels, apart from post-apocalyptic science fiction? Where is the great Climate Change Novel?

These questions haunt the acclaimed novelist Amitav Ghosh. He believes artists of all kinds — but especially writers — have a moral responsibility to confront the issue, and so far, they’ve failed abysmally. In his recent nonfiction book, "The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable," he makes the case that climate solutions can’t be left to scientists, technocrats, and politicians. “The climate crisis is also a crisis of culture, and thus of imagination,” he writes. We need radically new ways of thinking, even a new paradigm, to see how the Anthropocene is already transforming our lives. And who’s best equipped to show us this reimagined landscape? Artists, of course.

You can read a full transcript of Ghosh's conversation with Steve in the LA Review of Books.