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Manjula Martin

January 16 @ 7:00 pm

Manjula Martin in conversation with Oscar Villalon

celebrating the launch of

The Last Fire Season: A Personal and Pyronatural History

By Manjula Martin

Published by Pantheon

H Is for Hawk meets Joan Didion in the Pyrocene in this arresting combination of memoir, natural history, and literary inquiry that chronicles one woman’s experience of life in Northern California during the worst fire season on record.

Told in luminous, perceptive prose, The Last Fire Season is a deeply incisive inquiry into what it really means—now—to live in relationship to the elements of the natural world. When Manjula Martin moved from the city to the woods of Northern California, she wanted to be closer to the wilderness that she had loved as a child. She was also seeking refuge from a health crisis that left her with chronic pain, and found a sense of healing through tending her garden beneath the redwoods of Sonoma County. But the landscape that Martin treasured was an ecosystem already in crisis. Wildfires fueled by climate change were growing bigger and more frequent: each autumn, her garden filled with smoke and ash, and the local firehouse siren wailed deep into the night.

In 2020, when a dry lightning storm ignited hundreds of simultaneous wildfires across the West and kicked off the worst fire season on record, Martin, along with thousands of other Californians, evacuated her home in the midst of a pandemic. Both a love letter to the forests of the West and an interrogation of the colonialist practices that led to their current dilemma, The Last Fire Season, follows her from the oaky hills of Sonoma County to the redwood forests of coastal Santa Cruz, to the pines and peaks of the Sierra Nevada, as she seeks shelter, bears witness to the devastation, and tries to better understand fire’s role in the ecology of the West. As Martin seeks a way to navigate the daily experience of living in a damaged body on a damaged planet, she comes to question her own assumptions about nature and the complicated connections between people and the land on which we live.

“This is the kind of natural history writing we need at this most crucial moment. It’s precise, granular, and lovely, but it’s also engaged, and entirely honest in grappling with change. The shifting baseline of the world around us, not the timeless beauty of the world, is the story of our moment, and it’s rarely been better told.”

—Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

Manjula Martin is coauthor, with her father, Orin Martin, of Fruit Trees for Every Garden, which won the 2020 American Horticultural Society Book Award. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Cut, Pacific Standard, Modern Farmer, and Hazlitt. She edited the anthology Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living; was managing editor of Francis Ford Coppola’s literary magazine, Zoetrope: All-Story; and has worked in varied editorial capacities in the nonprofit and publishing sectors. She lives in West Sonoma County, California.

Oscar Villalon is the managing editor at the literary journal ZYZZYVA. His writing has appeared in Freeman’s, the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, Stranger’s Guide, Literary Hub, and other publications, and in the anthology There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis (Vintage). A former board member of the National Book Critics Circle, and a former book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, he lives in San Francisco.

This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit: https://citylights.com/foundation/

Details

Date:
January 16
Time:
7:00 pm
Website:
https://citylights.com/events/manjula-martin/

Organizer

City Lights Bookstore
Phone
(415)-362-8193
View Organizer Website

Venue

City Lights
261 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133 United States
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Phone
(415)-362-8193
View Venue Website