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Writing and the Environment

Posted on 22/12/2014
By Commonwealth Foundation

Hay Festival, United Kingdom. 2014.

“”I personally find the environment a turn off as a phrase, it means that which is around us and I’m much keener on the idea of being part of other living things.” – Maggie Gee
Daniel Hahn talks to British novelist Maggie Gee, Sri Lankan writer Michael Mendis and writer and environmental activist Diana McCaulay, from Jamaica, about how the environment affects their work. The panel discusses the fine line between fiction and activism and asks whether fiction can inspire us to live differently.


Maggie Gee

Maggie cropped leopard skin on beach
Maggie Gee writes about global warming and environmental breakdown in many of her fourteen books, including Light Years (1985), Where are the Snows (1990), The Ice People (1998), and The Flood (2004). Her latest novel is Virginia Woolf in Manhattan (2014). She is Vice-President of the Royal Society of Literature and Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.

Diana McCaulay

Writer In Residence; Commonwealth Writers; Diana McCaulayDiana McCaulay is an award-winning writer and environmental activist, resident in Kingston, Jamaica. She has written two novels, Dog-Heart (2010) and Huracan ( 2012) published by Peepal Tree Press in the United Kingdom. Both novels had critical acclaim and broke local publishing records.

Michael Mendis

Michael Mendis, Regional Winner 2013 CSSPMichael Mendis is a writer whose work bridges fiction and non-fiction. The winner of the 2013 Commonwealth Short Story Prize (Asia Region), his story ‘The Sarong-Man in the Old House, and an Incubus’ for a Rainy Night was published on Granta online in May 2013.

Daniel Hahn

Daniel Hahn
Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator with some forty books to his name, which have won him the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award. He is currently compiling the new Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature.

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