cover image Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape

Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape

Cal Flyn. Viking, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-1-98-487819-9

Journalist Flyn (Thicker Than Water) travels to abandoned wilderness sites around the globe to study how ecosystems regrow in this riveting collection of essays. The world, Flyn writes, "has a great capacity for repair, for recovery, for forgiveness... if we can only learn to let it do so." In "The Waste Land," Flyn argues that "eyesore sites" such as the industrial slag heaps of West Lothian, Scotland, present a new way of looking at nature in terms of "ecological virility" instead of beauty, as such sites are often biodiverse. "Unnatural Selection" highlights the rapidly evolving marine species in Arthur Kill, Staten Island, that have demonstrated "the ability to adapt to a befouled and ruinous world, and even thrive there," while "Alien Invasion" takes readers to Amani, Tanzania, to witness the havoc wrought on old-grown forests by invasive species introduced to the area by Europeans in the early 1900s. At each location—disputed territory in Cyprus, a village decimated by volcanic eruptions in Montserrat—Flyn finds redemption in the "new life springing from the wreckage of the old." Through lush and poetic language, she captures the vital forces at work in the natural world. This is nature writing at its most potent. Agent: Amelia Atlas, ICM Partners. (June)