An advisory committee made up of faculty, staff and students selected Rising for this year’s book, noting the power and relevance of the book’s stories about the people and communities most at risk from sea level rise. Rush demonstrates how race, class, national origin and income levels further exacerbate vulnerability to rising seas.
Describing Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore as “the book on climate change and sea levels that was missing,” The Chicago Tribune writes: “Rush travels from vanishing shorelines in New England to hurting fishing communities to retracting islands and, with empathy and elegance, conveys what it means to lose a world in slow motion. Picture the working-class empathy of Studs Terkel paired with the heartbreak of a poet.” Pacific Standard calls the book “a revelation.”
About a week and a half ago I was out having lunch with some dear old friends. After we supped on ceviche and fresh fish, Felipe took them sightseeing and I headed back home to finish my work for the day. When I walked into the apartment I realized I had missed a call from my editor, the fabulous Joey McGarvey. Her message was ebullient: RISING had just been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction! I was, as I am sure you can imagine, completely over-the-moon. I paced the apartment end-to-end for a couple hours, calling those who had lent their testimony to RISING and those whose love and support made this project possible. Now I am telling you all to share in the joy that is being named a finalist for such an incredible prize.
Hi Ya’ll… I just returned from Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica and I am officially unearthing myself from the landslide that is my inbox. If you want to know a little more about what I was up to check out my latest dispatches in National Geographic:
Last week Publisher’s Weekly gave Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore a starred review I. COULD. NOT. BE. MORE. THRILLED. You can read the whole review in its starry glory below:
Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore
Elizabeth Rush. Milkweed, $26 (202p) ISBN 978-1-57131-367-6
Timely and urgent, this report on how climate change is affecting American shorelines provides critical evidence of the devastating changes already faced by some coastal dwellers. Rush, who teaches creative nonfiction at Brown University, masterfully presents firsthand accounts of these changes, acknowledging her own privileged position in comparison to most of her interviewees and the heavy responsibility involved in relaying their experiences to an audience. These include the story of Alvin Turner, who has lived in his Pensacola home for more than five decades, survived numerous hurricanes, does not carry flood insurance, and lives “alone on the edge of a neighborhood threatened from all sides.” Alvin’s story is not unlike that of Chris Brunet, a native of the shrinking Isle de Jean Charles in a Louisiana bayou, who must decide whether to stay on the disappearing island or leave. While showing that today’s climate refugees are overwhelmingly those already marginalized, Rush smartly reminds readers that even the affluent will eventually be affected by rising sea levels, writing that water doesn’t distinguish “between a millionaire and the person who repairs the millionaire’s yacht.” Rush also presents a legible overview of scientific understandings of climate change and the options for combating it. In the midst of a highly politicized debate on climate change and how to deal with its far-reaching effects, this book deserves to be read by all. (June)
I had the pleasure of teaming up with Amy Brady, over at the Chicago Review of Books, to bring you this month’s Burning Worlds column. For those of you who don’t know Burning Worlds it is a deep dive into all things climate fiction (Cli-Fi) related.
Check out my “Postcard from Rhode Island” in Pacific Standard’s 10th Anniversary Issue. Come for the radical resiliency report stay for the fabulous writing from folks like Alexander Chee, Terry Tempest Williams, Bill McKibben, and Patrick Nathan.