[5] Weather by Jenny Offill

Book Cover: [5] Weather by Jenny Offill

BOOK: Weather
AUTHOR: Jenny Offill
YEAR: 2020
PUBLISHER: Granta / Penguin

Meet Lizzie Benson, a university librarian living in Brooklyn with her family. Her former mentor Sylvia hosts a popular climate change podcast ‘Hell and High Water’. She hires Lizzie to assist her in answering the doomsday mail that she receives, messages that span the political spectrum.

The fifth book that we will be reading together in the LAX LAB book club is Weather by Jenny Offill. Weather is part of an expanding subset of climate fiction that is not set off in some distant, possible, dystopian future. Weather takes place in our present where climate change is woven into the fabric and concerns of everyday life. Taking place in New York City, the novel is an exploration of Trump’s America and the rise of the right. With wit and dark humour, Jenny Offill explores the angst of this moment. It is about the weather of climate change but also the weather of politics, emotions, and the personal.

Given the approaching election in the United States (and all the anxiety that comes with it), this novel should be a particularly salient read. Though many of us are neither from nor living in the United States, we are all very much affected by the country’s politics and its strange political weather. The sparse prose and narrative structure are a departure from the novels that we have been reading so far.

Climate anxiety

Author website
Jenny Offill

Obligatory note of hope (Website that goes along with book)

Articles, essays, and other non-fiction
Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich

'Weather by Jenny Offill review – wit for the end times'
Kate Clanchy, The Guardian, 13 February 2020

'Biden says the US will rejoin the Paris climate agreement in 77 days. Then Australia will really feel the heat'
Christian Downie, The Conversation, 6 November 2020

'Does Trump’s defeat signal the start of populism’s decline?'
Mark Landler and Melissa Eddy, New York Times, 10 November 2020

'Stormy 'Weather' captures our anxious age with bracing wit'
Heller McAlpin, NPR, 11 February 2020

'In swing states, Biden voters have climate anxiety. Trump voters don’t'
Emily Pontecorvo, Grist, 3 November 2020

'Disaster ‘prepping’ was once an American pastime. Today, it’s mainstream again'
Nina Strochlic, National Geographic, 10 November 2020

'Jenny Offill’s ‘Weather’ Is emotional, planetary and very turbulent'
Ping Zhu, New York Times, 7 February 2020

Outline by Rachel Cusk

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Music and other audio
'Jenny Offill’s obligatory note of hope' 
First Draft podcast with Mitzi Rapkin, 2 March 2020

We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service  (2016) by A Tribe Called Quest

The Times They Are A-Changin'  (1964) by Bob Dylan

Emma Arnold