Social Commentary in Fiction

Olivia Clare Friedman, rather than relying on heavy-handed, direct messages about environmental destruction, subtly conveys the sad state of the world through her character’s thoughts and feelings. For example, one of her characters mentions the unusual amount of rain in Louisiana.

“Too much rain in September hurt us. We were doing an impossible thing. We’d plant, and a storm would take our sprouts. We’d plant, and more rain would come. The ground stayed wet even on sunlit days.”

Friedman uses imagery, symbolism and characters’ reactions to their environment to create a story that conveys a message without being too obvious.

Although she set her novel, HERE LIES, in the future, her descriptions tell what is happening in Louisiana. In a mere thirty years, the climate has drastically changed—from a sunny wilderness paradise to a land of perpetual fungi. I cannot recall the last time I saw a hummingbird outside my window or a cloud of butterflies.

I am worried that those coming after will consider the environmental descriptions in HERE LIES to be only fiction, or that those descriptions will be undecipherable to future readers because destruction will be so normalized. 

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