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On America

On America: Climate Writing with Elizabeth Kolbert, Madeleine Watts, and Leslie Jamison

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Wednesday, 7:30 pm EDT February 24, 2021

Online via Zoom

“The challenge of writing about climate change is how to take this thing that is essentially on a larger scale than our minds can hold and how to make it a narrative that our minds can hold.” —Leslie Jamison, New York Times

Can great writing help us confront the global climate crisis before it’s too late? Pulitzer Prize winner and New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert (The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History) reports on what is at stake as well as efforts to turn the tide in her new book, Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future. In her recently published debut, The Inland Sea, author Madeleine Watts parses the anxieties of living in a constant state of emergency and provides a glimpse of what comfort and refuge might look like in a land besieged by the climate crisis. Leslie Jamison (Make It Scream, Make It Burn: Essays) will moderate the discussion to examine the ways that climate fiction and journalism might help connect science and the lived experience to the will for change.

On America brings writers, journalists, activists, and change-makers together to reflect on the critical issues of our times. See past and upcoming events in series.

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In Conversation

  • Kolbert author photo (c. John Kleiner) - Zach Cihlar

    Elizabeth Kolbert

    Elizabeth Kolbert

    Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change and The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize. For her work at the New Yorker, where she’s a staff writer, she has received two National Magazine Awards and the Blake-Dodd Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.

  • Madeleine Watts author photo (c) N_A (1) - Zach Cihlar

    Madeleine Watts

    Madeleine Watts

    Madeleine Watts grew up in Sydney, Australia and currently lives in New York. She has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, and her fiction has been published in the White Review and the Lifted Brow. Her novella, Afraid of Waking It was awarded the Griffith Review Novella Prize. Her non-fiction has appeared in the Believer, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Literary Hub. The Inland Sea is her first novel.

  • Leslie Jamison by Beowulf Sheehan

    Leslie Jamison

    Leslie Jamison

    Leslie Jamison is the author of three nonfiction books—The Recovering, The Empathy Exams, and most recently, the essay collection Make it Scream, Make it Burn—as well as a novel, The Gin Closet. She is a contributing writer for the New York Times magazine and directs the graduate nonfiction program at Columbia University.