Translated by :Lytton Smith
Dimensions:8.5in x 5.5 x 0.68 in | 460 gr
Illustrations:30 B&W illustrations
Longlisted for the 2022 National Translation Award • Finalist for the 2021 Nordic Council Literature Prize • A Winnipeg Free Press Top Read of 2021
Asked by a leading climate scientist why he wasn’t writing about the greatest crisis mankind has faced, Andri Snær Magnason, one of Iceland’s most beloved writers and public intellectuals, protested: he wasn’t a specialist, he said. It wasn’t his field. But the scientist persisted: “If you cannot understand our scientific findings and present them in an emotional, psychological, poetic or mythological context,” he told him, “then no one will really understand the issue, and the world will end.”
Based on interviews and advice from leading glacial, ocean, climate, and geographical scientists, and interwoven with personal, historical, and mythological stories, Magnason’s resulting response is a rich and compelling work of narrative nonfiction that illustrates the reality of climate change and offers hope in the face of an uncertain future. Moving from reflections on how one writes an obituary for a glacier to exhortation for a heightened understanding of human time and our obligations to one another, throughout history and across the globe, On Time and Water is both deeply personal and globally minded: a travel story, a world history, a desperate plea to live in harmony with future generations—and is unlike anything that has yet been published on the current climate emergency.
Andri Snær Magnason is an Icelandic writer born in Reykjavik. He is a writer of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays and documentary films. His book LoveStar won the Philip K. Dick special citation in 2014 and Le Grand prix de l’Imaginaire in France 2016, and his children’s book, The Story of the Blue Planet was the first children’s book to win the Icelandic literary award and has been published in 32 languages. The Casket of Time has received rave reviews in the New York Times and his book Dreamland: a Self Help Manual for a Frightened Nation has contributed to a new energy policy in Iceland and the vision of the Highland National Park in the Central Highlands of Iceland. Andri Snær Magnason ran for president in Iceland in 2016 and came third in the election.
Lytton Smith is a poet, professor, and translator from the Icelandic. His most recent translations include works by Kristin Ómarsdóttir, Jón Gnarr, Ófeigur Sigurðsson, and Guðbergur Bergsson. His most recent poetry collection, The All-Purpose Magical Tent, was published by Nightboat. Having earned his MFA and PhD from Columbia University, he currently teaches at SUNY Geneseo.
Praise for On Time and Water
“Magnason’s moving and heartfelt paean to glaciers turns the science of the climate crisis into a story of personal loss. He draws on the experiences of his family and relatives, as well as Iceland’s rich cultural relationship to its wild and rugged landscape, to communicate the true scale of the catastrophe that is coming and its impact on lives and societies.”—The Guardian
“Andri Snær Magnason’s perspective on his country’s environment is unique and compelling … The author tries to understand, and tries to make the reader understand, why the climate crisis is not widely perceived as a distinct, transformative event in the manner of, say, the fall of the Berlin Wall or the attacks of September 11th, 2001. The fundamental problem, as this book elucidates, is time. Climate change is a disaster in slow motion, and yet ‘slow’ is a great deal faster than many people seem able to comprehend.”—The Economist
"Andri Snær Magnason’s On Time and Water is a wondrous, rambling book. It confronts the ecological and social challenges facing humanity and eloquently presents facts that are dire and terrifying. And yet, through persuasive narratives and insightful examples, the book is satisfying, useful, and even hopeful to a degree. I highly recommend Magnason’s On Time and Water to readers of nonfiction, especially those interested in ecology and eco-theory ... Magnason’s eloquence is exactly what is called for in this dire moment."—World Literature Today
“A literary look at the threat of climate change in this moving account… Magnason’s empathetic rendering of changes that ‘surpass most of the language and metaphors we use to navigate our reality’ makes an impact. Climate-concerned readers will find much to consider.”—Publishers Weekly
"Compelling ... This clarion call to action on the climate issue, coming from award-winning Icelandic poet and novelist Andri Snær Magnason, should be required reading for deniers of the greatest crisis humans have ever faced ... A memoir and polemic featuring mythological stories, Icelandic folklore, cultural histories and science-driven extrapolations which effectively combine to send a strong message about the planetary damage humans are causing."—Winnipeg Free Press
“It is difficult to express to someone who has not read it how wonderful and how horrifying—in a nutshell, how truly vital—this book is. Magnason has created a masterpiece, staunchly scientific and highly informative, yet utterly raw in its humanity.”—Asymptote Journal
"Drawing from Icelandic mythology, science, and his family’s history, Magnason gives the vocabulary of climate change new charge ... On Time and Water deftly weaves a tapestry with threads that, at first glance, don’t appear to fit together ... Magnason has a knack for taking the everyday and turning it into something arresting and mythical."—Grist
“Andri Snær Magnason combines intimate history and collective mythology, personal essay and exploration of memory, geography and environment, to bring the elusive reality of climate change painfully and dangerously close to each of us.”—Paolo Giordano, author of Heaven and Earth
“With poetry and wonder Magnason summons deep emotions about our place on our planet. I was deeply moved and inspired by his words.”—Darren Aronofsky
“Magnason is onto something in creating poetic narratives that make the geological personal in this manner: referring back to our living ancestors’ experience confronts the shifting baseline from which we experience the changing world; and it draws on our imagination in ways that statistics don’t ... On Time and Water has a lot to recommend about it ... The imaginative exploration, is in itself deeply worthwhile.”—Shiny New Books
Praise for Andri Snaer Magnason
“Eco-lit needs more attention, and devotees will be pleased to discover a new addition from the Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason, who writes with a Seussian mix of wonder, wit and gravitas. ... immensely satisfying.”—New York Times
“The love child of Chomsky and Lewis Carroll.”—Rebecca Solnit
“Magnason has created an intimate epic that floats effortlessly between genres as diverse as fairy tale and political commentary, science fiction and social realism. The Casket of Time spans the chasm between 'once upon a time' and 'have you heard the news today' in a way that makes his philosophical fable feel both timely and timeless.”—Bjarke Ingels
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