Based as a newspaper reporter and climate blogger in Taiwan, since 2011 I’ve been promoting the rising ‘cli-fi’ movement to boost the literary fortunes of ‘climate change fiction’, a new genre of literature now accompanying ‘sci-fi’ within modern literature’s classification system. I’m not a novelist or a short story writer myself, just a reader and what I described as ‘a climate activist of the literary kind’. I use my PR skills learned over a lifetime of newspaper and magazine work in North America, Europe, Japan and Taiwan to communicate my cli-fi passion with editors, novelists, literary critics and fellow readers.
I’m not the only one doing this now. There’s a veritable army of PR people and literary critics shepherding cli-fi novels and short story anthologies into publication in over a dozen languages. What started out as a small movement in the anglophone world in 2011, has now become a global phenomenon among literary people in India, Singapore, Sweden, France and Australia. among other nations.
So what is cli-fi? As a subgenre of science fiction, it crosses the boundary between literary fiction and sci-fi to imagine the past, present, and future effects of man-made climate change, allowing readers to see what life might be like on a burning, drowning, dying planet. But the genre also encompasses writers who pen utopian novels and short stories full of hope and optimism. Cli-fi is not all dystopian and nightmarish visions of the future. There’s a lot of room for hope and better days, too.
A reader may find it hard to imagine an author as anything more than a by line and portrait on a back cover. Especially when a book is all engrossing, curiosity strikes about the person behind it. Twitter is making it easier than ever before for authors to engage with their fans, promote their works, and further express their thoughts and personalities. But with so many figures on Twitter, it’s hard to know who to follow and who to skip. Here are seven authors worth following.
A viscerally powerful first novel from one of the most outspoken poets in contemporary India: Sumana Mukherjee in Live Mint
“Fuck these postmodern writers.”
With this sentence, Meena Kandasamy ends possibly the most frustrating opening chapters you’ll read this year, replete with false starts, long digressions on everything from Ptolemy to Twitter and enough background information to rival a doctoral thesis. Precociously self-aware, preternaturally intelligent, and frequently convoluted, they also pre-empt every single argument that the reader or the reviewer could advance against these 50-odd pages and don’t spare the writer-narrator either.
Miki Mimura, a Japanese language teacher at Kurashiki Seiryo High School in Okayama Prefecture, is pioneering a new literature teaching method drawing inspiration from Twitter.
In her approach, which aims at cultivating reading comprehension and self-expression, students are encouraged to condense the thoughts and emotions of characters into short expressions akin to tweets, using 60 characters or less. Mimura says they voiced their opinions much more frequently during the trial run.
This unique digital storytelling event which is being sponsored by the Association of American Publishers, Penguin Random House, and Twitter (@TWfictionfest) will see Meghna Pant (@MeghnaPant), author of Happy Birthday and Other Stories and One and a Half Wife, retelling the epic Mahabharata in 100 tweets. Not an easy feat by any chance, Meghna is gung-ho about this challenge. She says, “I truly believe that a good story is a good story no matter what the length. Twitter is a challenging medium. Honestly, it’s also my way of making peace with Twitter, as a writer I initially found 140 characters stifling. But I soon realised that it’s one of the most important platforms we have today.”
Who would have thought that combining literature and Twitter (Twitterature) would prove to be an interesting exercise for the creative mind. Writers are on a tweeting spree at the second ongoing edition of #TwitterFiction Festival (March 12-16).