Dubai, UAE: A new climate fiction book titled ‘The Sky Has Moved Away’ has been launched by UAE-based novelist, Surya Ramkumar, to coincide with the staging of COP28 in Dubai. Set among the lush outdoor greenery of Jumeirah, the book was unveiled in front of an audience of literary fans and sustainability advocates, who engaged in a lively Q&A discussion with the author.
Published by the Dubai-based house, The Dreamwork Collective, Ramkumar’s ‘The Sky Has Moved Away,’ is the first entry from the region to the critical and emerging climate fiction genre . Set in 2009 in Nigeria, the book shows the devastating effects of a catastrophic heatwave on ordinary lives, and invites readers to examine their personal accountability in relation to climate change.
Climate fiction, or “cli-fi” is a relatively new genre, with the term first attributed to Dan Bloom in 2007. It gained wider acceptance in 2010s, but it was only later that established writers such as Richard Powers, Barbara Kingsolver and Kim Stanley Robinson embraced the genre. As late as 2016, the Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh lamented that the literary community was not paying sufficient attention to the world’s biggest challenge.
In June 2023, Nigerian writer Ben Okri kicked off conversations leading to COP28 by calling climate change the single most important issue of our time, saying, “I feel a great responsibility to draw attention to it using the immense powers of literature.” The genre is now beginning to gain momentum globally.
“Most climate fiction tends to look at dystopian futures,” Ramkumar said in the interview at the launch event, “but what my book explores is a realistic, yet scary scenario of a contained climate event that claims many human lives.” She wrote the book in 2009, after working in Nigeria in 2008. At that time, the heatwave described in the book was fictional, but in the thirteen years from first draft to publication, much has changed.
Ramkumar explained, “What seemed like a stretch of imagination then has now become real and normalized in our society. The conversation around climate change has become more mainstream, and there is a growing appetite among the broader audience for stories and books that help us deal with these challenging scenarios, to process our emotions and make sense of what is happening around us, and then lead us towards the right and necessary action.”
Stories as a powerful tool to tackle climate change.
Ramkumar added, “The themes of love and motherhood were on my mind when I wrote the book. Mother-child relationships explored in the novel invite the readers to reflect – if we consider Earth as our mother, would we treat her as we do now?”
The book is now available at all leading bookstores as well as online for readers worldwide through Amazon and other popular e-commerce portals now available at all leading bookstores in UAE, GCC, UK, US, India as well as online for readers worldwide through Amazon and other popular e-commerce portals . The avid reader interest in stories like ‘The Sky Has Moved Away’ is evident as the book hit #1 in Amazon bestsellers in its category based on pre-orders, even before its launch.
“We are thrilled with the interest surrounding the new novel. It was received positively at Venice International Film Festival in September and has received excellent early reviews,” said Kira Jean, CEO of The Dreamwork Collective. “Powerful stories like ‘The Sky Has Moved Away’ have the potential to drive meaningful change, and we hope it inspires more writers in the region to explore how they, too, can impact people and the planet positively through the power of storytelling.”
“We are very excited about the enthusiasm around the new novel, it has garnered excellent early reviews,” said Kira Jean, CEO of The Dreamwork Collective. “Stories are the medium through which humans make sense of our world, and we hope that this inspires more writers in the region to explore the thorny and urgent topic of climate change through the power of storytelling.”
About The Dreamwork Collective
Founded by creatives, for creatives, The Dreamwork Collective is a proud women-founded and run, author-centric publishing house, sharing diverse stories and powerful voices with the world. We publish books, courses and free resources to ignite your creativity and expand your consciousness. Dedicated to making sure that no story goes untold, we are driven to make today’s knowledge, wisdom and stories accessible to everyone and for many generations to come.