James Bradley is an award-winning author and critic. His books include five, most recently Clade (2015) and the young adult novel, The Silent Invasion (2017), a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus (1994), and The Penguin Book of the Ocean (2010). He blogs at cityoftongues.com.
All essays by James Bradley
The Library at the End of the World
There is no single solution to the climate crisis. But neither is there an inevitable outcome. Both assumptions are forms of magical thinking that obscure much more complicated realities. Coming decades are going to be unimaginably difficult, and as societies and cultures struggle to transform themselves some will succeed better than others. There is no question there will be loss, and pain, and fear, or that there will be mistakes and defeats as well as successes. But fixating on collapse, and assuming the story can have only one ending elides not just the possibility of future change, but also the change that is already taking place. We need libraries and lifeboats, but we also need to recognise that history keeps happening, and that in the middle of transformative change and upheaval it is often difficult to see what lies on the other side.
by Michael Ondaatje
Published May, 2018
A Family of Disguises
This preoccupation with the secret histories woven through the pages of official histories is signalled by the novel’s unattributed epigraph, ‘most of the great battles are fought in the creases of topographical maps’. It’s an extension of Ondaatje’s larger preoccupation with the question of how we understand and imagine ourselves into being, or more specifically, the ways in which that process is always provisional, subject to change and able to be shed, sometimes more than once. As Olive Lawrence tells Nathaniel and Rachel, ‘your own story is just one, and perhaps not the important one. The self is not the principal thing’.’
by Jeff VanderMeer
Published April, 2017
The Wolf Border
by Sarah Hall
Faber & Faber
Published April, 2015
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary
by Caspar Henderson
Published November, 2012
The beginning is nigh: The Book of Barely Imagined Beings
Book of Barely Imagined Beasts… takes the bestiaries of the Middle Ages and uses them as the model for an attempt to tease out the way animals (and the ways we choose to think about them) are integral to our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.
The Crane Wife
by Patrick Ness
Published April, 2013
Mono no aware: The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
The Crane Wife begins with a moment pitched somewhere between comedy and wonder. In the small hours of the morning, 48-year-old George Duncan is woken unexpectedly. It is a sound that has awoken him – an ‘unearthly sound … a mournful shatter of frozen midnight falling to earth to pierce his heart and lodge there forever, never to move, never to melt’ – but George, being who he is, assumes it is his bladder.
All essays featuring James Bradley
by James Bradley
Hamish Hamilton/ Penguin Books
Published April, 2020
James Bradley has been one of our country’s most outspoken and prolific commentators on the climate crisis, and his warnings about the environmental devastation that is already locked into the future have started to bite in ways that can no longer be ignored. Now, with coronavirus so quickly following the bushfires, we recognise even more clearly the state of constant, underlying dread portrayed in this novel, with its ‘sense of hastening, a dislocation deep in the fabric of things’.
James Bradley: Fitting the Pieces Together
‘Although it looks like you write one book and then another and then another, the reality is much messier than that, and the books are really part of a larger process that’s surprisingly difficult to understand when you’re in the middle of it.’ James Bradley speaks with SRB editor Catriona Menzies-Pike about the shape of a writing career in progress.
by James Bradley
Published January, 2015
The catastrophe business: Clade by James Bradley
The first scene in Clade is in Antarctica. It is the summer solstice, ‘the first intimation of the year’s long retreat into the dark’. Adam is a scientist and, in particular, a climate-change researcher. The urgency of this activity is underscored, not for the last time, in a novel that will let us consume our fill of human-assisted natural catastrophes …