A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis, from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka

Meera Subramanian. Perseus, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-61039-530-4
In this exemplary work, journalist Subramanian examines how India is responding to the environmental pressures linked to its growing population, with finite resources and unique cultural circumstances. The country, she says, is a “staging ground for an experiment in human survival” since it is “only a matter of time before even the most comfortable of countries will face similar circumstances.” Subramanian organizes the book around the Pancha Mahabhuta (five great elements) of Hindu mythology—earth, water, fire, air, and ether—and uses this conceit to investigate environmental issues, such as vanishing water resources and the extinction threat to vultures. The sections poignantly incorporate cultural issues as well. For example, the chapter on “Fire” explores the environmental impact and health risks of the carbon-fueled stoves used by two-thirds of the population in India. Subramanian’s writing is thoughtful and often lyrical as she balances current science with narrative journalism from her travels, switching modes to great effect. While reporting on environmental issues can sometimes overwhelm or burden the reader with guilt, Subramanian thwarts this risk by providing refreshing glimpses of individuals and organizations working against the problems India faces. Her work is engaging, informative, and eminently readable. Agent: Elise Capron, Sandra Dijkstra Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/22/2015
Release date: 08/25/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-61039-531-1
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