Climate Change and the 21st-century British Novel

My book, Climate Crisis and the 21st-century British Novel was published by Bloomsbury Academic in November 2017. A preview of the book is available here. I’ve been blogging about the book on my website, where you can also find the cocktail-party explanation of my book (i.e. the book for non-specialists).

Climate Change and the 21st-century British Novel explores contemporary narratives of nature as means of understanding our ambiguous perceptions and experiences of the natural world at a time of environmental crisis. The narratives that emerge from post-millennial British fictions provide novel ways of imagining changing human engagements with the nonhuman natural world in the Anthropocene.

The book focuses on four types of narratives of nature – pastoral nature, urban nature, climate crisis nature, and polar nature – that are nexus points in which discourses on contemporary nature converge. Pastoral nature is both ideal and, especially in light of environmental crisis, problematic for its escapist connotations. Urban nature is often seen as an oxymoron which is nonetheless becoming ever more prominent and significant as urbanization increases. Climate crisis discourse has come to dominate cultural and environmental debates over the past decades. Stories about polar nature, finally, use historical explorations to comment on the poles as the last wilderness and a poignant symbol of contemporary environmental destruction.

Despite the prominence of these narratives in contemporary culture, their significance in post-millennial British novels by mainstream literary authors has received little to no attention. The book provides an interdisciplinary approach – drawing on ecocriticism and narratology, but also urban and rural studies – to explore how these narratives are radically changing and are subsequently changing the way we imagine nature, our relationship with it and ourselves.

The authors and texts discussed in Climate Change and the 21st-century British Novel are Sarah Hall’s The Carhullan Army (2007), Melissa Harrison’s Clay (2013), Rebecca Hunt’s Everland (2014), Francesca Kay’s The Translation of the Bones (2011), David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (2004), Jeremy Page’s The Collector of Lost Things (2013), Ross Raisin’s God’s Own Country (2008), Amy Sackville’s The Still Point (2010), Zadie Smith’s N/W (2011), Graham Swift’s Wish You Were Here (2011), Sam Taylor’s Island at the End of the World (2010) and Gerard Woodward’s August (2001).

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