.....And in yet another very good and insightful news article by a literary critic, Sarah Stankorb at 'GOOD' magazine delivers the goods!
‘Cli-Fi’ is the Hottest New Literary Genre Around Now, writes literary critic Sarah Stankorb
Sarah Stankorb's articles and essays have appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, TheAtlantic.com, and Salon, with regular contributions to CNNMoney and GOOD Magazine. Her beat spans social enterprise, women's rights, the environment, health, motherhood, religion and cultural commentary.
Sarah grew up in Northeast Ohio. Her influences include a Rust Belt upbringing among people who, despite everything the world had shown them, believed hard work would result in the American dream.
The term cli-fi was first coined by book publicist and former journalist Dan Bloom, whose blog and Twitter platform heap accolades upon novelists who use their art to spotlight the implications of climate change. (Bloom also stands up with persistence and dedication for the genre term he is working to promote.) Author Margaret Atwood retweeted a tweet that Bloom had sent her in a 2012 tweet, popularizing the genre designation even more broadly (with a name like Atwood!), and since, cli-fi has continued its rise, -- via a long series of news articles and commentaris at NPR, the New York Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, Room for Debate at the New York Times, the AP, Reuters and the Chronicle of Higher Education, among more than 100 other articles worldwide since 2013 -- and also becoming the subject of a growing number of literary curricula and conferences.
The emerging genre—which runs the gamut from Marcel Theroux’s man in search of humanity in Far North, to Antti Tuomainen’s noir The Healer, to Barbara Kingsolver’s contemporary monarch butterfly survival story in Flight Behavior, and Margaret Atwood’s epic trilogy MaddAddam—offers tools beyond the persuasive reach of scientific observation and prediction. One of the great gifts of this kind of fiction could be its ability to make the unthinkable more proximate, or even intimate. It lets us into the truth of climate change in a new way, and it gives a new space to interrogate the forces that define our culture and changing world.
When Howell taught cli-fi at Temple last spring, he noticed that once his students shared a basic vocabulary for climate science, reading and discussing cli-fi together gave them tools to debate what it would be like to live and adapt to various futures. At least once a week, weighed down by the lack of political and social willpower directed toward mitigating climate change, “we would sort of have these moments where a discussion would develop, and we would all just start feeling very, very bleak and worried,” says Howell. He would take a moment and note that it was happening, try to move on. “But, yes, that was definitely the dominant affect of the class at times, that distress.” Unless efforts are made by authors to insert hope, reading cli-fi can leave one feeling profoundly powerless.
But as he writes in an essay on Medium, for Howell’s students, that sense of helplessness turned into an acceptance that the future will be radically different than our world, “and that it’s exciting (not just terrifying) to imagine what will happen. With uncertainty about the future comes the potential to change it for the better.”
Cli-fi offers the means for imagining redemption. That inspiration, that hoped for redemption — as well as all the dire warnings — all of it is needed for a doomed-seeming people learning to live on the precipice of a changed world.
At various day jobs she has worked to support people living with HIV/AIDS, environmental conservation, and workforce development. Sarah has served as a communications consultant for nonprofits including the Natural Resources Defense Council and The School Fund, and she assists other organizations by writing web content, policy papers and newsletters.
A graduate of the University of Chicago's Divinity School, Sarah's current research focuses upon the intersection of gender and apostasy, (i.e., women who've given up on God/religion). She's also working on a collection of short stories about losing faith. Her essays were recently included in Rustbelt Magazine's Youngstown Anthology and Through the Hourglass, published by Gray and Boardman.