The Great Derangement and the Unthinkable

Annotated by Pelin Tan



Penguin Books


Amitav Ghosh


Ghosh usually writes fiction, but The Great Derangement and the Unthinkable is a non-fiction book that primarily discusses the effect of climate change on our everyday lives. The author’s fictional works deal mostly with relational territories, labour and narratives across planetary existences, while this book focuses on the question of the unthinkable, which I believe is an important aspect to bring to the question of how we imagine the future. The book is centred on a past event, the author’s memory of a tornado that struck New Delhi in 1978, which he describes as ‘a species of visual contact, of beholding and being beheld’. This pivotal emotional event for him forces us to think of the improbable/improbability of climate change. This book on the Anthropocene has the simplest imaginative discussion of all the Anthropocene books mentioned. It develops speculative imagination in critically tackling concepts such as improbability.

Pelin Tan

Only much later did I realize that the tornado’s eye had passed directly over me. It seemed to me that there was something eerily apt about that metaphor: what had happened at that moment was strangely like a species of visual contact, of beholding and being beheld.