#WigtownWednesdays | Cal Flyn ~ 19 May 2021

29 April 2021
Cal Flyn By Nancy Macdoanld Copyright Cal Flyn 2020 004

Cal Flyn ~ Islands of Abandonment

Wednesday 19 May
7pm (BST), online


Author and journalist Cal Flyn talks to us about her latest book, Islands of Abandonment, a non-fiction book about the ecology and psychology of abandoned places: ghost towns and exclusion zones, no man’s lands and fortress islands – and what happens when nature is allowed to reclaim its place.

In Chernobyl, following the nuclear disaster, only a handful of people returned to their dangerously irradiated homes. On an uninhabited Scottish island, feral cattle live entirely wild. In Detroit, once America’s fourth-largest city, entire streets of houses are falling in on themselves, looters slipping through otherwise silent neighbourhoods.

This book explores the extraordinary places where humans no longer live – or survive in tiny, precarious numbers – to give us a possible glimpse of what happens when mankind’s impact on nature is forced to stop. From Tanzanian mountains to the volcanic Caribbean, the forbidden areas of France to the mining regions of Scotland, Flyn brings together some of the most desolate, eerie, ravaged and polluted areas in the world – and shows how, against all odds, they offer our best opportunities for environmental recovery.

By turns haunted and hopeful, this luminously written world study is pinned together with profound insight and new ecological discoveries that together map an answer to the big questions: what happens after we’re gone, and how far can our damage to nature be undone?

Listen to a sample on Soundcloud.

About the author: Cal Flyn is an award-winning writer from the Highlands of Scotland. She writes literary nonfiction and long-form journalism. Her first book, Thicker Than Water, which explored questions of colonialism and intergenerational guilt, was a Times book of the year. Islands of Abandonment is her second book, out now in the UK, and from 1 June in the United States. Cal’s journalistic writing has been published in Granta, The Sunday Times Magazine, Telegraph Magazine, The Economist and others. She is a columnist for Prospect, deputy editor of literary recommendations site Five Books, and a regular contributor to The Guardian. Cal has been writer-in-residence at Gladstone’s Library and the Jan Michalski Foundation in Switzerland. She was made a MacDowell fellow in 2019.