The Great Derangement

Climate Change and the Unthinkable

Hardcover, 196 pages

Published Sept. 14, 2016 by University of Chicago Press.


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4 stars (3 reviews)

"Are we deranged? The acclaimed Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that future generations may well think so. How else to explain our imaginative failure in the face of global warming? In his first major book of nonfiction since In an Antique Land, Ghosh examines our inability--at the level of literature, history, and politics--to grasp the scale and violence of climate change. The extreme nature of today's climate events, Ghosh asserts, makes them peculiarly resistant to contemporary modes of thinking and imagining. This is particularly true of serious literary fiction: hundred-year storms and freakish tornadoes simply feel too improbable for the novel; they are automatically consigned to other genres. In the writing of history, too, the climate crisis has sometimes led to gross simplifications; Ghosh shows that the history of the carbon economy is a tangled global story with many contradictory and counterintuitive elements. Ghosh ends by suggesting that politics, much …

5 editions

read in 2020, a literature and story focus more than Nutmeg's Curse

4 stars

Wonderfully sharp and lucid climate critique of fiction and global capitalism. Through modern literature's failure to face or grapple with climate change, he weaves the blindspots of the western novel's individual moral narrative, the role of empire in partitioning the world's industrialization growth and infeasibility of replicating western economic exploitation for the colonized masses, and the compartmentalizing of politics to no longer allow any sense of collective or commonweal.

Review of 'The Great Derangement' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Wow. Well, I've certainly never read a book quite like this before, and I'm so glad I read it.

Just a few of the topics Ghosh explores:

+ The nature of the novel
+ The way imperialism and capitalism play off of each other
+ Colonial vs precolonial founding of cities
+ Tigers in mangroves
+ Predicting the likelihood of cyclones hitting Mumbai
+ The effects of probability based thinking on city planning and literary fiction
+ The Romantics in Lake Geneva in 1816
+ The loss of the collective in literary fiction
+ Why coal inspires art but oil doesn’t
+ The slowly erected wall between scifi and literary fiction
+ High culture’s disdain for illustration
+ Asia’s centrality to the climate crisis
+ The history of the Burmese oil industry
+ The pitfalls of the dominance of the Anglosphere
+ The prose stylings of Pope Francis vs. the …

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5 stars