Uncanny and Improbable Events


Uncanny and Improbable Events is a text written by Amitav Ghosh, an Indian prose writer and essayist, in which he aims to answer the question as to why mainstream fiction rarely undertakes the topic of the climate crisis. As Ghosh points out, if there is actually any climate change-related motive, the book is automatically deemed science-fiction. 

According to Ghosh, we suffer from some kind of cognitive dissonance – we feel the smog in our lungs that suffocates big cities; countries of the Global South are plagued by the ever-increasing intensity of disasters caused by weather anomalies but on the other hand, it all seems too “improbable” to appear in well-read and awarded prose. We can only write about the climate crisis in a form of a postapocalyptic vision or a non-fiction book.    

Ghosh’s essay is important for many reasons. First of all, it brings to our attention that a big part of our daily life is usually missing from fiction as if it was too “uncanny”. Yet, what speaks to me in this text, is the fact that Ghosh looks at the literary canon from a perspective different to the one we are used to in Europe. 

Ghosh references European writers but he puts them on the same footing with Indian creators. He writes as a citizen of the Global South that suffers and will suffer unspeakably more due to climate change… for which mostly the highly industrialized north countries can “take credit”.

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