Tuesday, November 26, 2019

As 'cli fi' gets hot, is the publishing industry warming up to it or does it remains cool to it?







In April 2013, NPR radio in America sounded the alarm about a hot new literary
genre dubbed "cli fi'' (thank you producer and reporter Angela Evancie), and in May 2013 the
Guardian newspaper in Britain did a follow-up (thank you Rodge Glass)
 -- followed by 'cli fi' stories in Dissent magazine's Summer 2013 issue,
the New York Yorker magazine (thank you Carolyn Kormann), New York
magazine (thank you Kathryn Schulz), the Financial Times
in London (thank you, Pilita Clark), the New York Times (thank you
Richard Perez-Pena) and the Winnipeg Free Press in Canada (thank you
Jen Zoratti).

And now as the world turns, and as the 415 ppm of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere reaches ever upward, the publishing industry in New York,
London and Sydney remain more or less mum and tight-lipped about what
they intend to do with this trending new genre of cli-fi literature.


But in a posible series of imaginary interviews FOR NOW with people who work in the book
business in New York and London, we came across some far-seeing
imaginary but possible made up quotes.

"'If cli fi takes off the way that sci fi  did years ago, this could
be a very good publishing event for all of us," said a top literary
agent in Manhattan. "And good news, too."

"I am not sure if cli fi will work, but the term makes sense in this
age of climate fear and loathing," said an acquring editor for a major
house in Australia. "Maybe there's something here."

"I would love to see people submitting cli fi genre novels," said an
editorial director and the CEO of a major book firm in San Francisco.
"I see a
big market here and with a lot of territory to explore."

"If we want to save the world, maybe this cockamamie cli fi term might
help," said a Canadian woman who works for a top-notch green publisher
in Toronto. "I would love to see some major authors tackle the theme."


So there you have it.

Cli fi is on the march, and publishers are
following its every trending media appearance online and in print. But
when will cli fi have its own label or category on the online book
ordering site Amazon, and when will cli fi catch on to the degree that
a Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded one year in the future to the
writer of such novels is anyone's guess.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

My 15-year-old niece recently asked me if the hand-lettered #schoolstrike4climate sign that Greta Thunberg carries with her everywhere she goes, all over Sweden, all over Europe, all over the USA and Canada and Madrid, on trains and on two translatlantic sailboat trips -- everywhere, almost never lettering out of her sight -- or the sight of newspaper cameramen or TV cameras -- is a security blanket and talisman for her...

UPDATED WTH ONE ANSWER: QUESTION FOR PSYCHOLOGISTS:

My 15 year old niece recetnly asked me if the handlettered sign that Greta Thunberg carries with her everywhere she goes, all over Sweden, all over Europe, all over the USA and Canada and Madrid, on trains and on two translatlantic sailboat trips -- everywhere, almost never lettering out of her sight -- or the sight of newspaper cameramen or TV cameras --  is a security blanket and talisman for her...

SEE photo of it here:
https://thebulletin.org/2019/09/greta-thunberg-is-a-painful-reminder-of-decades-of-climate-failures/#.XfRRNDlH63Q.twitter

that carries around the world at her photo opps is maybe /perhaps /possibly a psychological or magic or what and why?

ANSWERS?

https://thebulletin.org/2019/09/greta-thunberg-is-a-painful-reminder-of-decades-of-climate-failures/#.XfRRNDlH63Q.twitter

When I posted this question on Twitter and Facebook, as a friend and admirer of Greta and not as a critic, I like her, I think she is a very interesting person, I received this answer from a practicing pychotherapist in her 70s. She told me:
''My guess would be that the handlettered sign that she carries with her everywhere, on train journeys, ocean saiIboat crossings, and which she clutches in photos almost like she's holding a cherished teddy bear, is for her andher PR team of handlers something that has become iconic, her global signature if you will -- a kind of visual reference to where and how the youth climate demonstrations started -- so I think it's not so much a 'security blanket' or a 'lucky charm' or 'talisman' but not so much for her as for the outside world (rather than for Greta's own psychological well-being.) But I'm only guessing. I have no inside direct line to Greta or her advisors, I'm afraid. 
 
However, that said, let me add this: When I think of all the people, young and old, who have been out on the streets protesting about government inaction on the climate emergency, I find it pretty amazing to think that a year ago none of this -- school strikes, Extinction Rebellion -- had even started.  So Greta must be doing something right, no? If she needs it or uses it as a security blanket or talisman to buoy up her own spirits as part of her global appeal and journey, then more power to her."

Reading the Hot New Genre of ''Cli-Fi'' in 2019 and the 2020s

Reading the Hot New Genre of ''Cli-Fi''

Rebecca Hayes

By Librarian 
Categories: Staff Picks
Short for ''Climate Change Fiction,'' cli-fi might be a relatively new term (and a play on sci-fi), but it describes a kind of story humanity has been grappling with for decades.
It’s a genre of literature that focuses on the past, present, and future effects of climate change on society.Not a subgenre of science fiction, but a unique and separate genre of its own now, cli-fi encompasses any and all literature that examines the impact of man-made global warming.
Cli-Fi selections
The term was first coined by journalist and environmentalist Dan Bloom of cli-fi.net in the early 2000s and has recently gained in popularity after being endorsed by Margaret Atwood. As a body of literature, cli-fi has been covered by The New York TimesThe Guardian, NPR, and many other outlets. The Chicago Review of Books even dedicates a monthly column penned by New Jersey literary critic Amy Brady called Burning Worlds to cli-fi book reviews, trends and author interviews.
Popular cli-fi titles include Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson, and Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer—all of which you can get in print, ebook, or eaudiobook at the Library.
Check out our new Recommendation for Adults page for a selection of cli-fi titles to try, along with other reading lists and resources.

Rebecca Hayes is the Readers Services Librarian at the Morton Grove Public Library.

Maria Kjos Fonn on cli-fi in Norway and the world at large: the power of climate fiction novels

The power of climate literature

by Norwegian novelist and journalist Maris Kjos Fonn

November 23, 2019 in the Aftenposten newspaper [COPYRIGHT 2019]

=============================================

''Tonight, this year /
in a city between all its atom /
deaths that one can call my mother,''

writes the Danish poet Theis Ørntoft.


Many people perceive the climate crisis as abstract and theoretical. But can fiction -- novels and movies and TV series -- be used to understand it better?


Australia and California have been enduring uncontrolled fires recently. In the Norwegian Arctic, k a town called Svalbard, climate warming has warned faster than anywhere else in the world. Do we also need, in addition to scientists' projections, poems novels, movies about the prospects of a world where climate becomes a man-made enemy?

  I'll admit it. The climate news about global warming scares me - to the extent that it turns sometimes into existential anxiety. While the Earth has a fever, I can wake up, overheat, and look out into the night, somewhere between all its atoms, and fear death. Then I finally manage to keep my head, as opposed to the globe, cold. I have to close my eyes. Think of something else. Sleep.

 Apocalypse now?

Yet it is not so clear outside here that I live in Oslo, Norway except perhaps from less stable winters, tropical summers and some sudden cloudbursts that cause the cows to dance. But to read about the warming is, almost chilling: the permafrost has begun to thaw at Svalbard, we are heading towards the famous tipping point that can make the huge amounts of inland ice in Greenland really start an irreversible and rapid melting process, water shortages and hunger are accelerating in the the most marginalized areas of the globe, where the least resourceful people live.

 Can we do nothing but reduce our own climate-damaging behavior, and then vote for the politicians who want to change the systems in a sustainable direction? As a reader and writer, I also ask - without it being able to save us, can fiction be used to sense and understand?

 Toxic poems

Human life conditions are changing at an extreme rate. It provides the foundation for science fiction, climate fiction and ecopoetry. Espen Stueland has written the book ''The 700-Year Flood, On Environmental Pollution and Climate Change and How Man's Relationship to Nature Shows in Politics and Poetry.
 
 "Pollution is a central trope in contemporary literature," Stueland writes, talking about a description of nature that is almost as depraved as man who considers it, poisoned, ill. He writes about the Danish poet Inger Christensen's influential work ''alphabet'', which he reads within a so-called "toxic discourse": the defoliants are found / for example dioxsin / which decompose trees / ".

 For my part, I have never had a more sensual literary experience of poisoning than when I read Ingrid Storholmen's ''Chernobyl Tales'' (published in 2009) about the nuclear accident in Chernobyl in 1986. ”You steal fruits from the trees, teeth crush against the taste buds, the grinders fuck out of the mouth cavity and sprinkled like lime out of the gap ”.

    "To forget Chernobyl is to under-communicate the risk of nuclear power," the reverse text says. At the same time, the UN Climate Panel writes that the share of nuclear power must be resolved sharply to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Still, Storholmen's book is relevant beyond describing a particular historical event - it is a picture of the poisoned nature that can awaken empathy for the future environmental threat.
 Dystopias and doomsday prophecies

Stueland writes about Christensen's ''alphabet''. "If the alphabet was a less poignant, musical, and wise work, the literary critics would dismiss the author as a doomed prophet who plays on fear (as in the cli-fi and climate-horror genres)."

 But climate fiction (cli-fi) can also make useful contributions. Cli-fi's close relative sci-fi was early on to describe extreme temperature changes: such as the new ice age in Anna Kavan's Ice (in 1967), or intense heat that causes glaciers to melt and the ocean to rise in JG Ballard's The Drowned World .

 Today, climate disasters are not speculative horror. Swedish Nobel Prize winner Harry Martinson's poem Aniara (in 1956) flees the people of the Earth due to violent environmental damage: And while we rush to the safe death, in a space that lacks land and coasts (…) within the last moment that all humans / eventually should meeting wherever they found a party.

 Science fiction with a journey into space can also be found in Tarjei Vesaas-nominated Maria Dorothea Schrattenholz's collection of poems Atlaspunkt. The collection is a journey from the beginning of humankind in the Stone Age, and beyond agriculture, until we find ourselves on Mars, the only place left where the climate is hospitable. The poet self is looking down on Earth:
 
you are covered in earth, ash, dust /
they say I come from you /
but I have never touched you /
forgot your gravity.

 And then, like an echo of Theis Ørntoft:
 
I needed a reason for my grief /
so I killed my mother.

When the poems melt

Is there anything at all about writing, or reading, fiction about climate? Norwegian Agnar Lirhus writes in the preface to the book ''What Was She Saying,'' a drawn poem, illustrated by Rune Markhus, which is close to Christensen's alphabet: "We read poems that blend with the world".

  Put at the forefront, with the extremely demanding political solutions required to curb mass destruction in a Domino effect, can poets be used for anything, besides the art having an aesthetic value in itself?
 
Does it have political impact? I say yes.
 
As several climate psychologists have pointed out, it is not that we are not aware of the seriousness of the climate crisis. But numbers and news become abstract, far away, too big. Fiction can create a closeness and empathy that graphs and newspaper articles cannot. It does not mean that a poem can change the world - it cannot. But it can be one of many expressions that contribute to changes in attitudes and behavior.

 As Anne Helene Guddal writes in her ollection of poems ''There is also the irreconcilable'' from 2014, which admittedly is about mental, not ecological, collapse:
 
Can art save lives? /
Hardly / - but it tries /
whether you want to or not.

Friday, November 22, 2019

''Jewish Cli-Fi? Who knew?''


'Lamed Vav.' [Google It.]

 Steven Pressfield’s new potboiler climate thriller Jewish cli-fi novel titled "36 Righteous Men" is reviewed by Adam Hirsch here -- [''Jewish CliFi#? Who knew?''] - Read the whole here:

https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/294315/lamed-vav-google-it

‘Lamed Vav.’ Google It.

Finally, a potboiler religious action-thriller cli-fi novel built around an ancient Jewish mystery, in Steven Pressfield’s ‘36 Righteous Men’

November 22, 2019
 
Christian writers have long since woken up to the crowd-pleasing potential of the religious action-thriller.

The popular Left Behind series, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, spun 16 novels out of the Book of Revelation, narrating the Rapture, the coming of the Antichrist, and the war of Armageddon.

Dan Brown sold 80 million copies of The Da Vinci Code by imagining a millennia-old Vatican conspiracy involving the Holy Grail and the true identity of Mary Magdalene.

So what do Jewish readers have to compete with that?

A handful of arty novels about golems.

Surely we deserve at least one book where the hero unravels an ancient Jewish mystery and staves off the end of the world by shooting an RPG at the devil to knock him back through the portals of Gehenna? Right?

Well, now we have one, thanks to Steven Pressfield’s 36 Righteous Men.

Like Tom Clancy, Pressfield—a 76-year-old ex-Marine who published his first novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance, when he was in his 50s—writes fast-paced, stripped-down prose that is regularly interrupted by lovingly technical descriptions of computers, cars, and weaponry.

One episode in the novel, where the good guys enter an IDF armory to select the guns they will use to fight the bad guy, evokes the opening of countless shoot-’em-up video games.

But the genre to which 36 Righteous Men really belongs is the movies. The hero, Manning, is a tight-lipped but deep-souled cop with a tragic past who could be played by Bruce Willis. The narrator is his partner, Dewey, a kick-ass babe who evokes Lara Croft as played by Angelina Jolie. Most of the scenes follow a Hollywood template: the car chase, the police interrogation, the shootout. Pressfield even sets out the dialogue in script format:

MANNING
You okay, Dewey?

ME
I’m cool.

MANNING
Don’t fuck around.

ME
I’m cool.
Yet this must be the only book of its kind that includes a key scene at the Dorot Jewish Division of the New York Public Library on 42nd Street. That is where Manning goes to start unraveling the strange case he is assigned to: a series of murders where the victims are found choked to death with seemingly inhuman force, and with the letters “LV” stamped into the flesh between their eyes. Manning is at a loss until he receives an anonymous text: “LV is Hebrew. The letters ‘lamed’ and ‘vav.’ Google it.”

Why Pressfield didn’t simply have the victims imprinted with the actual Hebrew letters, rather than English transliterations, is never explained. (It’s all the more bothersome since we hear that similar victims are being found around the world, particularly in Russia.

Why would they have English letters on their foreheads? Or did they have the Cyrillic equivalents?)

But a Jewish reader familiar with the term lamed-vavnik will understand the meaning of the clue.

In Hebrew, the numerical value of the letters is 36, and they refer to the legend Pressfield uses for his title: the idea that in each generation, there are 36 perfectly just men, the lamed-vavniks, on whose merit the existence of the world depends. (In fact, the name of the first victim is Michael Justman.)

This idea dates back to the Talmud: In a passage of messianic speculation in Tractate Sanhedrin, the rabbis say that “the world has no fewer than 36 righteous people [tzadikim] in each generation who greet the Divine Presence.” The catch is that no one knows who these people are: That’s why they are called tzadikim nistarim, the “hidden righteous ones.” Even the tzadikim themselves, in some tellings, don’t know that they belong to the group.

Taken as a spiritual allegory, this is a beautiful and profound idea, suggesting that goodness is inward, inconspicuous, and that the people God loves most are never those whom the world bows down to.

But Pressfield—like a few other novelists before him—takes the legend in a more conspiratorial direction. Someone, it seems, is hunting down the 36 tzadikim and killing them one by one. (In this 21st-century telling, they include women as well as men, but it’s not clear whether they are all Jews. The ones we hear about by name are, but there are references to Chinese and Latin American victims as well.) The forensic evidence shows that the killer can float through windows and is invisible to security cameras; clearly, Manning and Dewey aren’t dealing with an ordinary suspect. And as they learn more about the legend of the tzadikim nistarim, they start to realize that the real goal of the killer is to bring about the end of the world, by eliminating the righteous individuals on whom Creation is supposed to rest.

Readers in academia will be tickled to discover that it turns out the person responsible for all this destruction in the novel's story is, terrifyingly, “an associate professor at Columbia in Judaic studies.”

This is Jake Instancer, who introduces himself to Manning at the Dorot Library and explains the legend of the lamed-vavniks. But it soon turns out that there is more to this nondescript professor (“tall, clean-shaven, athletic—dressed in jeans, T-shirt, and hoodie”) than meets the eye. Soon after their meeting, Instancer takes Manning to Brooklyn for a farbrengen (another first for this genre) with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, which goes horribly wrong when the rebbe ends up getting murdered like the other LV victims. It turns out that Instancer is the killer Manning was looking for all along.
But wait, you ask—how can there be a Lubavitcher Rebbe? Hasn’t that position been vacant since the death of the seventh rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, in 1994? Yes, but 36 Righteous Men takes place in the year 2034, and apparently “the Council of Elders appointed an eighth Rebbe in 2024—a renowned scholar of the same ancient line.” And it’s not just Chabad that has changed a lot in the next 15 years. The most original element in 36 Righteous Men is Pressfield’s evocation of a dystopian world wrecked by global warming. As Manning and Dewey pursue their suspect from New York to Israel, we see signs of disaster everywhere: temperatures always above 100 degrees, water shortages leading to riots and wars. (One happy side effect is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over: Everyone has to band together to fight against the elements.)

It’s often been observed that environmentalism serves many secular people today as a substitute for religion. But this has seldom been more explicit than it is in 36 Righteous Men. For what, in the year 2034, is a righteous person? It turns out that all of the LV victims are, in one way or another, fighting against climate change; and the end of the world that Instancer wants to bring about will take the form of our own destruction of the planet. Goodness is no longer a religious concept but an ecological one.

Yet at the same time, the genre in which Pressfield is working demands that the denouement involve explosions, not carbon-sequestering pilot demonstrations. And so 36 Righteous Men tries to have it both ways. Manning and Dewey, equipped with shoulder-launched missiles and giant “Zombie Killer” shotguns, do battle with Instancer in Megiddo, the Israeli site of the biblical Armageddon; in doing so, they hope to protect the last lamed-vavnik, a climate scientist whose inventions will help stave off global warming.

Will they succeed?

It wouldn’t be very righteous of me to give away the ending.
***






 
 



HOUSE ON FIRE -- forthcoming essay anthology about climate change –– with a great slate of writers –– co-edited by Tajja Isen and Amy Brady: PUB DATE: TBA


''HOUSE ON FIRE''

is 

an upcoming essay anthology about climate change –– with a great slate of invited writers –– and co-edited by two top literary editors Amy Brady (video) and Tajja Isen.

Emily Temple, senior editor at LitHub tells us on November 20:

Editor in Chief of Chicago Review of Books and cli-fi expert Amy Brady and contributing editor at Catapult Magazine Tajja Isen will be editing an anthology of essays entitled House on Fire: Dispatches from a Climate-Changed World. Contributors include Jeff VanderMeer, Lidia Yuknavitch, Porochista Khakpour, Gregory Pardlo, Lacy Johnson, and others, with a focus on “where and how they’ve witnessed climate change in their own lives, neighborhoods, workplaces, and families, connecting the personal to the planetary.”

Agented by Rahane Sanders

Publisher: Catapult
 
Acquiring Editor: Leigh Newman at Catapult

PUBLICATION DATE: to be announced

Authors in the anthology include:

Lacy Johnson
Porochista Khakpour
Lidia Yukanovitch
Jeff Vandermeer (JVM)
and dozens more


The children's book industry in India has largely evolved over the past decade — not only is literature available in more regional languages in India but there is also an expansion in genres, such as ''climate-fiction,'' also known as ''cli-fi'' and coined by American journalist Dan Bloom in 2011.

The children's book industry in India has largely evolved over the past decade — not only is literature available in more regional languages in India but there is also an expansion in genres, such as ''climate-fiction,'' also known as ''cli-fi'' and coined by American journalist Dan Bloom in 2011.

Put together by the German Book Office New Delhi, the central contact for the German and Indian book industry, JUMPSTART facilitates an exchange between experts and creative professionals.

The theme of the festival for its 10th edition that kicks off this weekend is Beyond the Book. First up, Neeraj Jain, MD, Scholastic India will give an overview of the Indian landscape of children's literature, while storytelling community Wattpad India's country head Devashish Dharma will discuss the importance of digital platforms. The event also delves into adaptations with a panel featuring author of Bard of Blood Bilal Siddiqi and Story Ink's Sidharth Jain. Animator Shilpa Ranade and award-winning author Paro Anand will also conduct masterclasses for writers and illustrators.

For the first time, the festival includes a primer on author branding and pro­m­­otion. The session will feature di­gital marketer and author Venke Sh­­arma with literary agent Mita Kapur of Siyahi and will be moderated by As­ad Lalljee. Talking about common mistakes aut­h­­ors make on social media, Sharma says, "Some often choose the wrong platform; if you're going to talk about your personal life on Facebook, then the relevance of your book is lost, unless your personal brand is as good as the content you're producing." Kapoor shares an important tip for those who wish to approach a literary agent. "Don't write to an agent and to publishers simultaneously. Do your research — follow the submission guidelines and write a cover note," she suggests.