Since at least the 1960s, when British sci-fi writer J.G. Ballard published The Drowned World, novelists have written about climate change. Over the decades, interest in the subject grew, and, today, novels about climate are so popular they’ve become their own genre—climate fiction, or “clifi,” as it’s sometimes called. This past year was an especially productive year for clifi. It brought us a wide range of styles and voices, including those in the tradition of sci-fi, fantasy, and literary fiction. More excitingly, it brought us a bevy of global perspectives from writers publishing in English translation. The clifi of 2020 is also notable for its optimism. Whereas the climate fiction of previous years has tended toward the dystopian, these works are more optimistic, even hopeful. In a year that was dark and despairing for so many reasons, such complex but inspiring novels helped readers to imagine a more just and sustainable future.
You can purchase any or all of these books at our CHN Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/chn-bookshelf-winter-2021-climate-fiction
Chen Qiufan, trans. Ken Liu, Waste Tide (New York: Tor Books, 2020).
Pitchaya Sudbanthad, Bangkok Wakes to Rain (New York: Riverhead, 2020).
Cynan Jones, Stillicide (New York: Catapult, 2020).
Catherine Hernandez, Crosshairs (New York: Atria Books, 2020).
Jenny Offill, Weather (New York: Knopf, 2020).
Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future (New York: Orbit, 2020).
Anja Kampmann, trans. Anne Posten, High as the Waters Rise (New York: Catapult, 2020).
Charlotte McConaghy, Migrations (New York: Flatiron Books, 2020).
Lydia Millet, A Children’s Bible (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2020).
Maja Lunde, trans. Diane Oatley, The End of the Ocean (New York: Harper Collins, 2020).