Cli-Fi- the tonic prescribed by authors for eco-anxiety
It is conventionally known that fiction reveals truths that reality obscures. Truth is hard to embrace and sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible.
That is exactly why eco-fiction, a genre of literature that addresses the impact of human actions on the natural world, can help the general public accept truths about our changing planet that may be hard to digest.
Reading eco-fiction can help reduce eco-anxiety, a state of chronic panic spawned by distressing news alerts of the climate crisis. Unlike news articles, eco-fiction offers a more immersive and emotional experience, allowing readers to sympathise with characters and stories in a way that can be both comforting and empowering.
For example, in Barbara Kingsolver’s “Flight Behaviour”, the main character Dellarobia Turnbow learns about the devastating impact of climate change on monarch butterfly migration and must reconcile her personal struggles with larger environmental problems. Through Dellarobia’s story, Kingsolver demonstrates how one person can make a difference and encourages readers to take action in their own communities.
Vrinda Baliga, in her book “Roots”, expertly explains the colonization of plants, who she quotes are “Masters of Adaptation”, willing to change form, shape, size, behavior, appearance and habits to continue their expansion. She criticizes humans, who show disregard to Kingdom Plantae simply because they do not learn, communicate, nurture or emote the way we do.
“To us, they were mere resources, yet another bounty of Earth for our kind to exploit.”
Her words cut deep, as she employs a mixture of English and Indian languages, weaving a rich tapestry of cultural influences that strongly resonate with her readers.These examples illustrate how eco-fiction can provide hope, inspiration, and a call to action for readers facing eco-anxiety.
However, while reading eco-fiction can be a thought-provoking experience, it can also increase feelings of eco-anxiety. Eco-fiction can be heavy and emotionally-charged, making it difficult to engage with, leaving them powerless, guilty and distressed.
While it is a powerful tool for raising awareness about environmental issues, it is still a work of fiction. Some readers may become misinformed about it and misconceptions can be perpetuated by the imaginative nature of these books.
Then, we have the more pressing problem at hand- the fleeting effects of reading eco-fiction. Undeniably, it is a moving experience, however the effect such books have on people lasts only for a limited period of time and thus, proving ineffective and unyielding.Despite its limitations, by combining storytelling with environmental education, eco-fiction can help readers process complex environmental issues in a more accessible and relatable way. After all, words can praise, they can hurt, they can heal- they can most definitely induce change.
Written by Nivrrithi Arvindkumar
Nivrrithi is a seventh-grader from Chennai who strongly believes that words are revolutionary, if exploited to their fullest potential. She is a ballet and tap dancer who firmly believes that it transports one into a world of reverie. She greatly enjoys public-speaking and writing powerful pieces that centers around intense emotion. She hopes to publish a short story and a photography blog which is currently in the making and is a part of her school's Newsletter Team. Her main drive is fascination that keeps her ardent about the generalized idea of learning.