Amitav Ghosh is an influential Indian writer and environmental thinker who has won many honours for his fiction. A former academic, he’s the author of several substantial works of non-fiction, including The Great Derangement, an exploration of literature’s failure to address the climate and ecological emergency. His new work, The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis, is the subject of this interview.
What is striking about Amitav’s work is that he is just as at home with the big picture of an unstable Earth, as he is talking about the personal agonies brought on by Covid, or the beautiful constellations found within a nutmeg and the myths it has inspired. He gives fresh and humane insights into the world today and writes with wisdom and compassion about the core issues of colonialism, racism and systemic genocide that are fundamental to the crisis we’re now in. Perhaps a career of crafting ten novels has put him in a good position to try to see everyone’s point of view, even the bad guys.
In person, Amitav Ghosh speaks modestly. In our times of swagger, shouting and bravado, it would be easy to underestimate that voice. But listen, and you’ll encounter a fierce intelligence, fed by insight and research. In this interview, he speaks briefly of his grief in the face of what he sees as inevitable societal collapse.
Producers: Jessica Townsend & Aidan Lewis Knox
Presenter: Jessica Townsend
Sound Editor: Aidan Lewis Knox