The Quickening: Creation and Community at the Ends of the Earth


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$30.00  $27.90
Milkweed Editions
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5.6 X 8.7 X 1.5 inches | 1.45 pounds

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About the Author

Elizabeth Rush is the author of The Quickening: Creation and Community at the Ends of the Earth and Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Rush's work has appeared in a wide range of publications from the New York Times to Orion and Guernica. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Howard Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation and the Metcalf Institute. She lives with her husband and son in Providence, Rhode Island, where she teaches creative nonfiction at Brown University.


Praise for The Quickening "Elizabeth Rush's The Quickening is one part memoir, one part reporting from the edge--think Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction--a book that feels as though it was written from the brink. In this case the extreme scenario is literal: Rush, a journalist, joins a crew of scientists aboard a ship headed for a glacier in Antarctica that is, like much of the poles, rapidly disappearing. The book brings the environmental crisis into a personal sphere, asking what it means to have a child in the face of such catastrophic change. [. . .] Rush writes with clarity and precision, giving a visceral sense of everything from the gear required to traverse an arctic landscape to the interior landscape of a woman facing change both global and immediate."--Vogue, "Most Anticipated Books of 2023""In The Quickening, Elizabeth Rush takes readers to the precipice of the climate crisis. Aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer, an American icebreaker, Rush and a crew of scientists, journalists, and support staff set bow and stern in front of Thwaites Glacier for the first time in history [. . .] The Quickening is a poignant, necessary addition to the body of Antarctic literature, one that centers--without glorifying--motherhood, uncertainty, community, vulnerability, and beauty in a rapidly melting world."--Science
"Elizabeth Rush takes readers along as she documents the 2019 Thwaites Glacier expedition in Antarctica. The voyage had 57 scientists, researchers and recorders onboard to document the groundbreaking glacier, which has never been visited by humans. [. . .] Rush ties her findings of the Thwaites Glacier expedition to raising kids and living in a quickly changing world."--WBUR, "8 Books to Add to Your Summer Reading List""The fascinating inside story of climate science at the edge of Antarctica [. . .] In this follow-up to Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, Rush shows us how data collection happens, capturing the intriguing details of climate science in the field [. . .] The scientists are not the only heroes of Rush's book, which emphasizes above all the collaborative and interdependent nature of such voyages, where so much depends on the staff and crew. In addition to her own poetic voice, the author incorporates the voices of everyone on the ship, highlighting women and racial and ethnic minorities, who have been overlooked in the canon of Antarctic literature."--Kirkus Reviews"Rush's reporting is top-notch, and her personal reflections make this an unusually intimate account of climate change. Readers will find plenty to ponder."--Publishers Weekly
"An astonishing, vital book about Antarctica, climate change, and motherhood from the author of Rising, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction."--Next Big Idea Club
"The Quickening took me on an immersive journey through both exterior and interior landscapes, deftly crossing the boundaries between the frigid Antarctic and the warm heart. Elizabeth Rush's writing is multilayered, from fascinating scientific accounts to intimate human stories and deep examinations of how we live deliberately in a melting world."--Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass
"In The Quickening, Elizabeth Rush chronicles a months-long journey to the Thwaites glacier in Antarctica with scientists who are conducting research that will help us better understand how global warming is reshaping our planet. As with Rising, this book is beautifully written, deeply felt, and thoroughly researched. [. . .] Antarctica is a mysterious, terrifying, vast place and Rush captures all of it with genuine curiosity and intelligence. This book is at once a love letter and a meditation and a gentle warning--and we very much need all three."--Roxane Gay, Goodreads"The Quickening is the Antarctic book I've been waiting for--an immersive modern day expedition tale, a reflection on science and knowledge-making, a confrontation with gendered histories, and a brilliant writer's spellbinding meditation on human mistakes, distant goals, and courage."--Megha Majumdar, author of A Burning: A Novel
"The Quickening is about the end of a great glacier and the beginning of a small life. It is a book about imagining the future, and it is a book of hope."--Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Under a White Sky
"Going to the Antarctic is an adventure, big science is an adventure, having a child is an adventure--and all of these adventurers are shaded by the great and tragic adventure of our time, the plunge into an ever-warmer world. So, this is an adventure story for the ages!"--Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature"An Antarctic book like no other, this mesmerizing account of a writer contemplating motherhood tagging along on a scientific voyage to the literal bottom of the world is the best writing I have read about climate change yet. The poetically personal account, mixed with the chorus of the scientists' statements of purpose, catches the reader's attention in a way no dry facts could."--Sam Miller, Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, KY"One of the most insightful expeditions I have read in quite some time. Not only does Elizabeth Rush sail into the Southern Ocean and Antarctica, but she also elegantly navigates the difficult questions of meaning and purpose that hold together the center of our communities and selves. Rush's narration is one that will find an audience of questioners and explorers, both of the world and the soul, for years to come."--Emerson Sistare, Toadstool Bookstore, Keene, NH"Elizabeth Rush is a proven chronicler of our changing planet, and in The Quickening, she turns her perspicacious gaze to the complex entwining of birth and loss. Told in a chorus of voices, this is a vital addition to the literature of the climate emergency."--Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes, CA"At one point in The Quickening, Rush makes the point that we know more about the moon than we do about the Antarctic ocean, which feels impossible and isn't. This whole book was like that, bringing fantastical truths about the natural world into sharp focus alongside our personal, everday decision-making. As Rush witnesses firsthand the effects of climate change on the glacier Thwaites while hoping to become a mother, we're able to focus on hope even as we reckon with our impact on the planet."--Ellie Ray, Content Book Store, Northfield, MN"Ranging from glaciers to what grows within, this journey to Antarctica is like none you've read before--delightful and devastating, profound and grounded, but most of all shimmering with life. The Quickening is a mesmerizing ode to the power of melting ice and the necessity of creation amid world-altering change. I cried and laughed from cover to cover." --Bathsheba Demuth, author of Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait
"In The Quickening, Elizabeth Rush offers readers a symphony of voices from the people who stand at the forefront of climate investigations, woven with the singular lyrical story about a woman's embodied hope for the future. On a ship bound for the uncharted edge of the fragile Thwaites Glacier, experience an Antarctic voyage you've never heard before, about a warming world breaking apart, even as new life begins." --Meera Subramanian, author of A River Runs Again: India's Natural World in Crisis, from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of KarnatakaPraise for Rising
A GUARDIAN, NPR's SCIENCE FRIDAY, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, AND LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOK OF 2018 "A rigorously reported story about American vulnerability to rising seas, particularly disenfranchised people with limited access to the tools of rebuilding."―Jury Citation, Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction"Deeply felt . . . Rush captures nature with precise words that almost amount to poetry; the book is further enriched with illuminating detail from the lives of those people inhabiting today's coasts. . . . Elegies like this one will play an important role as people continue to confront a transformed, perhaps unnatural world."--New York Times"The book on climate change and sea levels that was missing. Rush travels from vanishing shorelines in New England to hurting fishing communities to retracting islands and, with empathy and elegance, conveys what it means to lose a world in slow motion. Picture the working-class empathy of Studs Terkel paired with the heartbreak of a poet."--Chicago Tribune (Best Ten Books of 2018)"Sea level rise is not some distant problem in a distant place. As Rush shows, it's affecting real people right now. Rising is a compelling piece of reporting, by turns bleak and beautiful."--Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Under a White Sky"A smart, lyrical testament to change and uncertainty. Rush listens to both the vulnerability and resiliency of communities facing the shifting shorelines of extreme weather. These are the stories we need to hear in order to survive and live more consciously with a sharp-edged determination to face our future with empathy and resolve. Rising illustrates how climate change is a relentless truth and how real people in real places know it by name, storm by flood by fire."--Terry Tempest Williams, author of Erosion"Lovely and thoughtful . . . Reading [Rush's] book is like learning ecology at the feet of a poet."Minneapolis Star Tribune
"With tasteful and dynamic didactic language, [Rush] informs the layperson about the imminent threat of climate change while grounding the massive scope of the problem on heartfelt human and interspecies connection."Los Angeles Review of Books
"Moving and urgent . . . Rush's Rising is a revelation. . . . The project of Rising, like the project of Matthew Desmond's Pulitzer Prize-winning Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, is to draw attention to ongoing material crisis through the stories of the people who are surviving within it. Rising is a clarion call. The idea isn't merely that climate change is here and scary. There's a more important message: There are people out here who need help."Pacific Standard"A sobering, elegant look at rising waters, climate change, and how low lying areas and the vulnerable people who live in those areas are at risk."--Roxane Gay, author of Hunger, via Goodreads"Rush's innovative, brave Rising [is] about the changing coastlines of America in a time of climate breakdown, and part of a growing wave of what might be called Anthropocene non-fiction, seeking to find a form for the challenges of our epoch. . . . [Rising] will stay long with me."--Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland"Really powerful . . . An exciting book not only because it has these really compelling stories about American climate refugees and people whose lives have already been disrupted by rising seas and other climate catastrophes, but also [Rush is] trying to see if there's a way that creative nonfiction can convey this problem. . . . I had to read it slowly, but I paid close attention, and I felt sort of spiritually nourished by the experience."--Claire Vaye Watkins, Los Angeles Review of Books"Timely and urgent, this report on how climate change is affecting American shorelines provides critical evidence of the devastating changes already faced by some coastal dwellers. Rush masterfully presents firsthand accounts of these changes, acknowledging her own privileged position in comparison to most of her interviewees and the heavy responsibility involved in relaying their experiences to an audience. . . . In the midst of a highly politicized debate on climate change and how to deal with its far-reaching effects, this book deserves to be read by all."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)"Rush traffics only sparingly in doomsday statistics. For Rush, the devastating impact of rising sea levels, especially on vulnerable communities, is more compellingly found in the details. From Louisiana to Staten Island to the Bay Area, Rush's lyrical, deeply reported essays challenge us to accept the uncertainty of our present climate and to consider more just ways of dealing with the immense challenges ahead."The Nation"[Rush's] work does something that other superb science writing on climate change does not: It brings a poetic feeling and personal narrative to the subject. Her warm and informed presence is felt throughout Rising--a reminder that now more than ever we need the storytelling skills of nature writers to engage people and change policies given these pressing environmental times."--Kathryn Aalto, BuzzFeed ("11 Women Who Have Changed the Way We See the Natural World")"In this moving and memorable book, the voice of the author mingles with the voices of people in coastal communities all over the country--Maine, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Florida, New York, California--to offer testimony: The water is rising. Some have already lost their homes; some will soon; others are studying or watching or grieving. Though they haven't met each other, their commonality forms a circle into which we are inexorably pulled by Rush's powerful words."--Anne Fadiman, author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"A poetic meditation on the nature of change, on how people can make peace with a changing world and our agency in it . . . Rising [offers] pulsing, gleaming prose and a stubborn search for, if not hope, then peace in the face of disaster."Shelf Awareness"The strength of [Rising] lies not only in the pulse and momentum of her prose but in the relationships she built while writing it: relationships with scientists and with the many people whose homes are already underwater. Rush is an unusually courageous individual, and the book reverberates with heart. It helps us both to grapple with the mourning we must do as the holocene crumbles around us, and to do the radical work of imagining a way forward."--Michigan Quarterly Review"Rush rises. She brings stories out of the woodwork, revealing the true effect of sea level rise on the land, on the sea, and on people. She writes from a generation not asking if climate change is true or not, but how to live in the face of it, how we adapt, lose, or gain. Logging the finest, most intuitive details, Rush holds her subjects in tight focus, each coastline conveyed down to its grains of sand and inflections in the tides. Her writing is present among relocations and dying swamps, conveying the intricate nature of sea level rise. How do levees work? What does saltwater do to a freshwater aquifer? What voices are coming out of the wrack line, and what does it sound like as a coast is rewritten? Rush makes real a monolithic subject often too large to digest. You can taste the coming salt."--Craig Childs, author of The Animal Dialogues"Rising is not just a book about rising sea levels and the lost habitats and homes--it's also a moving rumination on the rise of women as investigative reporters, the rise of tangible solutions, the rise of human endeavor and flexibility. It is also a rising of unheard voices; one of the eloquent beauties of this book is the inclusion of various stories, Studs Terkel-style, of those affected most by our changing shoreline. A beautiful and tender account of what's happening--and what's in store."--Laura Pritchett, author of Stars Go Blue"From the edges of our continent, where sea level rise is already well underway, Rush lays bare the often hidden effects of climate change--lost homes, lost habitats, broken family ties, chronic fear and worry--and shows us how those effects ripple toward us all. With elegance, intelligence, and guts, she guides us through one of the most frightening and complex issues of our time."--Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts