The founder of Freeman’s and executive editor of Literary Hub gathers poems, essays, and short stories about global warming and inequality penned by writers from around the world.
Climate change is the most urgent crisis now facing humanity. But as Freeman (Dictionary of the Undoing, 2019, etc.) notes in his introduction, “large numbers of the world’s most powerful residents cannot grasp what it means.” Assembling the creative work of respected writers from both the developed and developing world, Freeman offers a sobering meditation on the future challenges that everyone will face. In her bleakly stark poem “Tracking the Rain,” Margaret Atwood reflects on how extreme drought is making itself felt in rich countries like her native Canada and how predictive technologies have been rendered useless by the randomness associated with climate change. In “Machandiz,” Edwidge Danticat takes up the theme of planetary overheating. With the devastating clarity that has become her literary hallmark, she observes the struggle of people from her native Haiti to survive political and economic problems now compounded by the brutal onslaughts of nature. “The Well,” a short story by Indonesian novelist Eka Kurniawan, tells the tragic story of how drought and floods destroyed possibilities for union between a boy and a girl from a tiny Indonesian village. Had nature been “kinder,” none of the losses that make their love impossible would have occurred. South Korean writer Krys Lee offers a thought-provoking fictional take on the consequences of living in a damaged environment. Citizens of an unnamed Asian city live with the ever present knowledge that the poisoned air they breathe through purifying masks and indoor filters may one day kill them. Fierce and provocative, this diverse collection shows that climate change is not just a problem for developing nations. One day, it will become a matter of life and death for rich and poor alike. Other contributors include Lauren Groff (U.S.), Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone), and Sjón (Iceland).
A powerful and timely collection on a topic that cannot be ignored.