Islands of Abandonment by Cal Flyn [8/10]

What happens when humans jettison, deliberately or due to circumstance, cities, towns, factories, or farms? What does such retrenchment of Homo Sapiens’ reach signify in our Anthropocene Era? Scottish writer/journalist Cal Fly traveled the world to discover and reflect, and in “Islands of Abandonment: Life in the Post-Human Landscape,” she has produced a comprehensively researched and deeply examined book that is also a pleasure to read. In the British Isles, Tanzania, western and eastern Europe, Cyprus, and America, she explores nuclear exclusion zones, near-abandoned cities, people-less islands, environmental disaster areas, and ex-war zones. I had read about the industrial/urban wasteland of Detroit, and I have visited Chernobyl, but much of the author’s coverage was revelatory to me. In lyrical prose, she flirts with doomism: “How will it unfold, I wonder: the creeping decline, or the sudden collapse?” But finally, hope springs nonetheless: “… I have found new life springing from the wreckage of the old, life all the stranger and more valuable for its resilience.” Highly recommended.

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