BookTalk is delighted to host the author Susan M. Gaines this February (17 February 2021, 19.00 – 20.30 GMT). Please book your free place at this talk via Eventbrite.
In this BookTalk, we’ll be teaming up with Cardiff’s ScienceHumanities Initiative and joining Martin Willis of the School of English, Cardiff biologist Frank Hailer, and novelist Susan M. Gaines to discuss a contemporary novel that addresses some of the most pressing environmental and political issues of our times.
‘Gorgeous, smart, and surprising, Gaines’ family saga takes us into the large world of nations and politics, but also the microscopic world of mud and microbes. Tender and powerful. Also with birds!’ – Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
When Gabriel’s mother decides to repatriate to her native Uruguay after thirty years in California, he takes a break from his uninspiring desk job to accompany her. A birdwatcher since childhood, Gabe is as intrigued by the unfamiliar birds in the wetlands on his squabbling family’s ranch as he is by crumbling, politics-obsessed Montevideo. But when he gets caught up in the national election, falls in love with the wrong woman, and discovers an endangered species of bird on the ranch, Gabe must confront the dark legacy of his family’s past—and the environmental devastation of his future.
‘…the elegant prose is so powerfully evocative that the landscape, the people and its birds bounced off the page, surrounding and immersing me in the unfolding story…. From its first sentence to its last, this book focuses on what we love—children, spouses, family, friends, nature, the environment, country—and the many ways that we show our love. Highly recommended.’ – Forbes
About the event
We hope readers interested in the full spectrum of the humanities, sciences, and arts will join us in discussion of this multifaceted novel. Key topics for discussion include interspecies relationships; changing concepts of nature in the Anthropocene; biodiversity and mass extinction; the legacy and threat of totalitarianism; South American politics; generational and regional ideas about environmental issues; the nexus of globalization, politics, and environmental breakdown; and, for the writers among you, what it means to write scientific knowledge into literary fiction.
Leading the Discussion:
Martin Willis is Head of the School of English at Cardiff University and co-Director of the ScienceHumanities Initiative. Martin has written widely on the relations between literature and the sciences and is the editor of the Journal of Literature and Science.
Susan M. Gaines is Writer in Residence and co-director of the Fiction Meets Science program at the University of Bremen in Germany. Gaines has degrees in chemistry and oceanography, and her writing reflects a fusion of literary and scientific sensibilities. Her books include the novels Accidentals and Carbon Dreams, and the non-fiction book Echoes of Life.
Frank Hailer is a researcher and lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences. Trained as an ecologist and conservation biologist, and with a keen passion for birds, his research focusses on various endangered species from across the globe, often using modern genetic techniques to obtain genetic fingerprints from the animals. He has worked in a wide range of habitats, from the arctic to the tropics, and will share some first-hand experience with relevance to Accidentals.
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The event is free, but as it will take place via Zoom, booking in advance is essential. Please book your free place at this talk via Eventbrite.
PLEASE NOTE: This event will be recorded
All recordings of this and past BookTalk events can be found here: BookTalk Recordings