A poignant re-telling of complex realities, nature, human frailties

A poignant re-telling of complex realities, nature, human frailties

'Anthropocene: Climate Change, Contagion, Consolation' is a literary and artistic response to the most urgent issues that face humanity now — climate change and the pandemic.

One of India’s finest voices in world literature of this generation, Sudeep Sen's prize-winning books include ‘Postmarked India’, ‘Rain’, ‘Aria’, and now his latest offering, ‘Anthropocene’, which had its UK launch at the Nehru Centre in London recently.

Sen is also the editorial director of Aark Arts, the editor of ‘Atlas’, and currently the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Museo Camera. He is the first Indian honoured to deliver the Derek Walcott Lecture and read at the Nobel Laureate Festival. The government of India awarded him the senior fellowship for "outstanding persons in the field of culture/literature".

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Poets and writers often get influenced by their surroundings – nature and human emotions. However, not every day do we encounter such profound and emphatic portrayal of the adversities of nature as we do in ‘Anthropocene’. It handles the most difficult subject that we face right now, the toxicity and morbidity of human lives, hopes and emotions. Sen tackles these demanding and complex issues head-on with honesty and sensitivity, without any compromise.

Simultaneously engaging multiple genres — creative non-fiction, essay, prose, poetry, and photography — the book interrogates our lives against the backdrop of a dangerously fraught and ever-changing landscape on the emotional, physical, micro and macro levels.

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"Heat outside is like filigreed sand on my skin —

swift, sharp, pointed, deceptive, furnace hot."

(from 'Heat Sand')

Sen writes, "The role of the artist is not to look away". And look away, he never did! His sensitive and emphatic perception becomes apparent with a vivid portrayal of nature. The New Delhi based poet has also shared an exclusive excerpt with iGlobal.

Sen's perception of this Covid era evokes a sense of melancholy, sometimes reminding of Keats. In fact, almost like déjà vu, imageries from each of the poems resonate with the dramatic contrast of romanticism and stark realism of many of our favourite poetry. Ultimately, the book is a plea for positivity and prayer — it urges us to slow down, introspect, and consume less. It is time once again to learn how to love selflessly and embrace "Hope, heed, heal — our song, in present tense."

In many parts of the world, we are gradually coming out of the lockdown. In some, we are still in colour-coded zones of the pandemic strike. And some parts are still gripped by an absolute pandemic paralysis.

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Now is the time more than ever when such bewildered thoughts are racing our minds – What did we do wrong? What did we miss? And what is it that we can do differently around this time!

This is the book worth picking as your summer read, possibly only because the reality now is so truly harsh that nothing lighter can suit our palette anymore.

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