One of the many things I appreciate about the Book Bingo categories is that quite a few can be filled by both fiction or nonfiction, leaving the choice up to the reader. Today let’s look at the “About the Environment” category, which at first glance lends itself primarily to nonfiction, and instead see what fiction we could read.
T.C. Boyle has written several novels in which environmental concerns play a large role. In When the Killing’s Done, National Park Service biologist Alma is tasked with preserving the native flora and fauna of California’s Channel Islands, a mission that lead to an extermination plan for the invasive rats and feral pigs on the island, bringing her into conflict with animal rights activist Dave. The Terranauts, set in 1994, follows eight scientists who agree to live for two years in a biosphere that mimics five different biome environments, a prototype for a future off-Earth colony. Inside the enclosure, ecological idealism meets human nature.
Did you enjoy Peter Wohlleben’s nonfiction book The Hidden Life of Trees, all about the way trees communicate with one another? Then check out Richard Powers’ new novel The Overstory. Nine linked short stories follow a group of strangers summoned by trees to take action in preventing a forest from industrial harvesting.
In All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki, Yumi is called back to her hometown of Liberty Falls, Idaho – heart of the potato-farming industry – for the first time in 25 years. Her ailing parents have been running an heirloom seed company that has attracted the interest of a group of anti-bioengineering activists; but they’ve been leasing their land out to Yumi’s childhood best friend, who has been experimenting with genetically altered potatoes. As the two groups converge, conflict ensues.
In David James Duncan’s Northwest classic The River Why, fly-fishing prodigy Gus Oviston retreats to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest in pursuit of elusive steelhead salmon in what becomes a spiritual quest of self-discovery tied to the natural world.
Finally, have you heard of cli-fi? It’s a relatively new term being bandied about, and applies to fictional work centered on the effects of climate change. It’s becoming a common enough term that Merriam-Webster has designated it as a word-to-watch for future inclusion in the dictionary. Here are a few titles to get you started with cli-fi:
American War by Omar El-Akkad
In 2074, a second American Civil War is underway as the American South secedes from the Union over legislation to give up fossil fuels. As the ravages of global warming – severe storms, extended drought, rising sea levels – intensify, the Chestnut family joins the mass of environmental refugees. Growing up a climate refugee in Mississippi, young Sarat is recruited as a warrior for the Southern cause.
Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Dellarobia Turnbow lives an unsatisfying life on a Tennessee sheep farm. Out walking one day, she stumbles upon a forested valley so covered in brilliant orange butterflies that it at first looks like it’s on fire. The butterflies’ usual migratory route disrupted by flooding in Mexico, the coming Appalachian winter threatens the demise of the species. As her discovery becomes public, a media and religious firestorm ignite as the global-warming debate comes to Dellarobia’s back yard.
Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich
Mitchell Zukor works for a company that advises clients on ecological disasters that would affect their bottom line. When his mathematical models predict a massive hurricane that wipes out New York City, Zukor is hailed as a new prophet of the apocalypse.
Looking for still more? Check out our full list in the catalog.
For more ideas for books to meet your Summer Book Bingo challenge, follow our Shelf Talk #BookBingoNW2018 series or check the hashtag #BookBingoNW2018 on social media. Need a Book Bingo card? Print one out here or pick one up at your Library. Book bingo is presented in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures.
~ posted by Andrea G.