Tuesday, August 29, 2017


a quiet informal oped by Dan Bloom
The 21st century marked the time when American cli-fi novelists first started penning novels and short stories about climate change, set in the present or near future.  And yet, given the slow pace of publishing, this is only logical: cli-fi novels being written now, as we speak, in the middle of the Hurricane Harvey disaster that struck Texas, cli-fi novels about Katrina and Harvey and the Mumbia floods will likely not appear until the mid-2020s, perhaps in 2025 or 2030 even.

So are we having a crisis of the imagination as Indian-American novelist Amitavji Ghosh says over and over again in his book and opeds splashed all over the media in the UK, the USA and Canada and in India as well? No, Dr Ghosh is wrong. There is no crisis of the imagination. There is a crisis in publishing. Among acquiring editors, and literary agents and CEO publishers. They mostly care about the bottom line and feeding their shareholders with money-making novels. That means distraction, escapism, science fiction adventures in outer space and other universes, along with celebrity cookbooks and such crap. But there is no crisis of the imagination among cli-fi novelists. They are working hard. They are writing daily. The crisis with with publishers who won't publish their works and with literary agents who won't even read their manuscripts. The publishing industry is a mess. When this blogger asked a top editor at a major trade magazine in New York City that covers the book industry if he was interested in covering the rise of the new genre of cli-fi, he replied in a two word note: "Not interested."

That sums up where we stand. Not interested, say the gatekeepers.

So even in Holland, Groene editor Jaap Tielbeke writes an essay titled "Crisis van de verbeelding," Crisis in Imagination, which basically gives up the old Amitav Ghosh anti-genre mantra.        
''Waarom zijn we toch maar niet in staat om grip te krijgen op de overweldigende klimaatcrisis? Volgens de Indiase schrijver Amitav Ghosh is dat het grote vraagstuk van onze tijd.''
Seems as if literary gatekeepers around the world cannot wrap their arms around the concept of cli-fi. After all, they are in the business of making money off novels that distract us from the what really matters now, and that is climate change. Will anything change? Not for another century at least. Cli-fi will not truly surface until the mid-21st century and even by the year 2100, the beginning of the 22nd Century, cli-fi will be nowhere. We are living in this kind of reality. The ''NOT INTERESTED'' reality of our literary gatekeepers.
They've even crafted a slur against cli-fi, calling it "climate porn." Post Katrina, post-Harvey, post the Mumbai floods of 20017, we are still in the lala land of climate porn. And nothing will change for another 100 to 200 years and then, after 500 years of this NOT INTERESTED nonsense, it will be too late. As Margaret Atwood told Jeff Vandermeer in an interview a few years ago, by the time mother of all climate change/global warming distasters hits us, it will be too late. And no genre of literature -- not cli-fi, not sci-fi, not spec fic, not ecofic -- will make any difference. By the time the mother of all climate change impact events hits us, it will be too late. We were warned but we did not listen to McKibben or Klein or Monbiot or Caldeira or Revkin or Colbert or Lynas. We just keep being distracted by the latest MTV awards show, the last fashion trend, the latest cat videos, the latest gossip about Celebrity A-Listers.

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