[8] Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee

Book Cover: [8] Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee

BOOK: Dreamland
AUTHOR: Rosa Rankin-Gee
YEAR: 2021
PUBLISHER: Simon and Schuster

Seaside town Margate on the southeast coast of England has seen its ups and downs: a once far-flung destination from London in the eighteenth century, a bustling holiday spot later made accessible by rail, to a run-down coastal town in the 1970s and 1980s. In a near future Margate, we meet our narrator Chance whose family flees overcrowded and over-expensive London to try their luck by the sea. Yet rising sea-levels, a deadly climate event known as 'the washout', 'pyro-heatwaves', and brutal winters make the British seaside a little less-than-idyllic. Set against this dystopian landscape is a story of love and hope.

The eighth book in the LAX LAB climate fiction book club is Rosa Rankin-Gee’s 2021 novel Dreamland. An apocalyptic coming-of-age story set in Margate, the novel is described by writer Sharlene Teo as ‘a love letter to the waning magic and melancholy of British seaside towns’. Rosa Rankin-Gee pulls us into the not-so-distant future, projecting today’s widening social inequalities, political atmosphere, and the climate crisis onto everyday life. It seems an apt time to be reading a novel set in a crisis-beleaguered Britain, as pandemic woes presently mingle with the post-Brexit chaos of fuel shortages and supply chain disruptions. I hope the novel may prompt discussions on gentrification generally, climate gentrification more specifically, on urban regeneration, hope and the ways we imagine the future.

Climate gentrification
Hope and love
Severe weather
Social inequality
Urban regeneration

‘Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee review – seat-edge tension in Margate’
Hephzibah Anderson, The Observer, 5 April 2021

‘The U.K.’s gas crisis is a Brexit crisis, Too’
Mark Landler, New York Times, 28 September 2021

‘Miami's best real estate is under threat from rising sea levels, so the wealthy are moving to higher ground’
Emily Olson, ABC News, 14 September 2021

‘The Great British seaside: why UK coastal towns will always appeal’
Rosa Rankin-Gee, Harper’s Bazaar, 27 May 2021

Emma Arnold