From the Guardian - the climate crisis casts a much smaller shadow on literary fiction than it does on the world. We are living through a crisis of culture – and of the imagination
"It is a simple fact that climate change has a much smaller presence in contemporary literary fiction than it does even in public discussion. As proof of this, we need only glance through the pages of literary journals and book reviews. When the subject of climate change occurs, it is almost always in relation to nonfiction; novels and short stories are very rarely to be glimpsed within this horizon. Indeed, it could even be said that fiction that deals with climate change is almost by definition not of the kind that is taken seriously: the mere mention of the subject is often enough to relegate a novel or a short story to the genre of science fiction. It is as though in the literary imagination climate change were somehow akin to extraterrestrials or interplanetary travel.
There is something confounding about this peculiar feedback loop. It is very difficult, surely, to imagine a conception of seriousness that is blind to potentially life-changing threats. And if the urgency of a subject were indeed a criterion of its seriousness, then, considering what climate change actually portends for the future of the Earth, it should surely follow that this would be the principal preoccupation of writers the world over – and this, I think, is very far from being the case. But why?
Why does climate change cast a much smaller shadow on literature than it does on the world? Is it perhaps too wild a stream to be navigated in the accustomed barques of narration? But the truth, as is now widely acknowledged, is that we have entered a time when the wild has become the norm: if certain literary forms are unable to negotiate these waters, then they will have failed – and their failures will have to be counted as an aspect of the broader imaginative and cultural failure that lies at the heart of the climate crisis."
The full article can be read here.