Last year was officially the hottest year on record. Deadly wildfires tore through Maui and Canada. Orange skies hung over New York City full of smoke and ash. Extreme floods swept through Greece, Italy, and other parts of Europe. Historic heat waves hit China and much of the U.S., with Phoenix, Arizona, reaching over 110 Fahrenheit for 20 days straight. The human-made, greed-fueled climate catastrophe is well upon us—and literature can help us make sense of how we can keep on living, and how we can fight for a more just future.
In my debut novel, A Fire So Wild, a wildfire creeps toward Berkeley, California, and three families from different walks of life are forced to reckon with the cracks in the lives they’ve built and confront the injustices lying under the city’s surface. It is a love letter to our precious planet and an urgent call for us all to question our own complicity in its destruction.
If you’re into books that explore the environmental collapse we are all living through—and push us to challenge the systems sustaining the stark inequities that undergird it—these are for you:
In this haunting story, as the climate crisis reduces much of the world’s food production to bland, government-sponsored sludge, a chef is given a prestigious job cooking for the ultra-wealthy in a remote community, where rare ingredients abound. There, she slowly becomes more and more enmeshed in the elite family that runs the project, bringing her ethics to a breaking point.
In this thriller, we follow a group of young, anti-capitalist gardeners who cross paths with a billionaire on a remote piece of land in New Zealand, with something precious in its soil. The group’s fiery leader and the businessman are dangerously entwined as he offers them money, complicating the group’s mission, the friendships at its core, and unraveling his true motives.
After a wildfire tears through the foothills of California, Ben, a middle-aged former cannabis farmer loses his crop of grapes and part of the family home. His wife Ada, a writer, also sees her manuscript turn to ash in the blaze, leaving her without a purpose. As their son Yoel, from whom Ben is estranged, returns to help them rebuild, the family has to face remaking their lives, and confront the strains in their relationships and their willingness to fight the corporations at fault.
Olga is a wedding planner in New York with an ironically frustrating love life, and her brother Prieto is a congressman in Brooklyn hiding a secret from the public. Their estranged mother, a radical Puerto Rican activist, haunts them both as they navigate their gentrifying city full of haves and have-nots. Then, as Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico, all three of their worlds collide.
Southern California is a desperate desert landscape without enough water, and Luz and Ray are lovers who loot, squat, and scrounge to get by. When they come across a child who needs them, mere survival is no longer sufficient, and they start a harrowing journey toward a better life—and are forced to face, in an apocalyptic, parched world, if such a thing even exists.
This collection of poems reckons with the end of the world as we are already experiencing it, staring war, climate upheaval, and other crises straight-on with sorrow and tenderness. The poems thread together the struggles of Black, Asian and other communities of color across time, showing that the apocalypse is already here for many, and survival is possible in solidarity.
In this unsettling novel, a family heads out to Long Island for a getaway weekend in a rental house when a sudden blackout brings the homeowners back to their door—and the two couples have to confront their suspicions of each other, their fears of the world and the depth of their humanity as the environment around them grows more and more dire and apocalyptic.
Inti arrives with a mission to the Scottish Highlands: to reintroduce wolves into the countryside, to save both the creatures and the climate-wrecked landscape. But the farming communities nearby are menacingly skeptical and as she and her team of scientists fight for the survival of the wolves and the woods both, one farmer is killed, causing tensions boil over.
In this sweeping novel, the survival of the earth’s oldest trees is threatened and we travel across time and geography to meet a slowly interweaving group of characters who each come into intimate relationship with these natural beings critical to our survival. It all comes to a head with activists’ radical efforts in the Pacific Northwest to save the redwoods from annihilation.
In this moving poetry collection, Jones has us visit the many ways the world is ending all around us, from violent white supremacy to intimate grief and beyond. In one poem, “Against Progeny,” Jones writes of choosing not to have children: “here where the sea has already laid / claim to the coast…someone…desperate to know why / I would inflict a drowned future on them.”