Review of Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement: Climate change and the Unthinkable2 min read
By Imteyaz Alam
The Great Derangement: Climate change and the Unthinkable (Penguin Books, India) by Amitav Ghosh encompasses the stories, history and politics of climate change in a single volume. The deftness of storytelling employed by one of the giants of fiction writing of our time is on full display in this remarkable book on the imminent crisis that Planet Earth is facing today. Amitav Ghosh, the celebrated author expiates or in other word introspects on behalf of fellow writers by writing this extraordinary piece of non-fiction. Why does the master storyteller resort to non-fiction? The answer comes from the author himself: “Yet, it is a striking fact that when novelists do chose to write about climate change it is always outside of fiction.”
The author rues elsewhere in the book: “If certain literary forms are unable to negotiate these torrents, then they will have failed—and their failure will have to be counted as an aspect of broader imaginative and cultural failure that lies at the heart of climate crisis.”
This era of collective failure of art and literature in negotiating with this existential threat will then come to be known by the future generation as the time of The Great Derangement, the author imagines. The book highlights the failure of collective imagination and lack of sense of urgency though the impact of climate change impact is visible all around us: “That climate change casts a much smaller shadow within the landscape of literary fiction than it does even in the public arena is not hard to establish.”
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