Video, Past Event, Social Justice

Amitav Ghosh on "The Great Derangement"

July 09, 2019

Are we deranged? Acclaimed Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh argues that future generations may well think so, given our imaginative failure in the face of global warming.

In this special presentation, Ghosh charts the complicity of fiction in shaping the priorities and consumer choices of the world we have created. When our descendants look back at this moment from a “substantially altered world”, he predicts, they will conclude that ours was a time when most forms of art and literature prevented people from recognizing the realities of their plight. They will think of our current moment on earth as the “time of the Great Derangement”.

Through Ghosh’s formidable body of work, he has unearthed the stories of ordinary people from the debris of empires. Here Ghosh argues against seeing the climate crisis in terms of the questions it poses to the individual conscience, because the response it demands cannot be left to the individual conscience. Here is a great writer’s eloquent summons to confront the most urgent task of our time.

Following his presentation, Amitav Ghosh spoke in conversation with Prof. Maureen Maloney of SFU’s School of Public Policy. This event was part of SFU Vancouver’s 30th Anniversary.

About Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh is one of the world’s top south asian literary stars.

He was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria and is the author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and The Ibis Trilogy, consisting of Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke and Flood of Fire. His most recent book, The Great Derangement; Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction, appeared in 2016 and was given the inaugural Utah Award for the Environmental Humanities in 2018.

Amitav Ghosh’s work has been translated into more than thirty languages and he has served on the juries of the Locarno and Venice film festivals. His essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic and The New York Times. They have been anthologized under the titles The Imam and the Indian (Penguin Random House India) and Incendiary Circumstances (Houghton Mifflin, USA). 

Amitav Ghosh holds two Lifetime Achievement awards and four honorary doctorates. In 2019 Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the most important global thinkers of the preceding decade.

About Indian Summer Festival

Indian Summer Festival is produced by Indian Summer Arts Society, a not-for-profit charitable arts organization based in Vancouver, Canada. The festival’s byline, ‘Where Worlds Meet,’ speaks to our focus on artistic collaboration. We create what we like to call ‘good friction’ by looking beyond the easy middle ground in order to foster true curatorial risk-taking. Our approach also includes unusual pairings of the local with the international, traditional with contemporary, and unexpected genres coming together. For more information visit:

Presented by

Indian Summer Festival, SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, SFU Vancouver, SFU Public Square


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