When Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood tweets, the world listens.
For acclaimed Indian novelist and essayist Amitav Ghosh, the future of humankind as global warming impact events spread worldwide looks grim. So grim that the 60-year-old pamphleteer has titled his new book of three climate-related essays "The Great Derangement."
There's some grim news in the media now, if you read newspapers or surf the internet, and it's coming from a scientific CO2 monitoring station in Tasmania situated on Cape Grim there. But more on this later, a few paragraphs down. First the good news, if it can be called that.
I live on a crowded, subtropical island nation in the Western Pacific, on the opposite side of the "Pacific Pond" from North America. And just south of Taiwan is the many-splendored island nation of the Philippines. We are neighbours. You can fly there in one hour, it's that close.
Imagine this, if you can: the world as we know it torn apart by ‘hypercanes’, storms with wind speeds of over 500 mph, capable of producing a system the size of North America. A tiny fraction of humanity driven to a civilisation underground, the remaining masses left to fend for themselves on the virtually uninhabitable Earth’s surface. Species extinction is complete and genetic engineering is at a new height, to ensure the continued survival of what’s left of the human race.
Item: In a recent blog post at the New Yorker magazine, staff writer Dana Goodyear surveys the current drought impacting California and writes: "It’s hard to escape the feeling we are living a cli-fi novel’s Chapter One."
University lecture halls in North America are no strangers to the ''cli-fi" genre of climate-themed novels and movies, but now India is getting into the act as well, thanks to the pioneering work of Professor T. Ravichandran of the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) in Uttar Pradesh.
From Columbia University in New York to the University of Cambridge in Britain, college classrooms are picking up on the "cli-fi" genre of fiction, and cinema and academia is right behind them.
When we read novels or short fiction in any language, we read to understand the story. We read to learn something new, and hopefully to get some kind of emotional uplift through the words on the page and the skills of the storyteller.