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Allegra Hyde to Discuss Cli-Fi in ‘Eleutheria’
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Tuesday, January 10, 2023
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

“Eleutheria” is the ancient Greek word for the personification of liberty. And it’s also the name for Allegra Hyde’s 2022 novel, which is a story of idealism, activism and systemic corruption centered on the story of a young woman in a world ravaged by climate change.

The novel was named one of the best books of the year by The New Yorker. And Allegra Hyde will discuss it at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, at Ketchum’s Community Library.

Her novel follows a self-styled environmentalist named Willa Marks as she chooses hope over her parents’ paranoid conspiracy theories, over her dead-end job, over rising ocean levels.

And she feels she’s found the justification of that hope in a renowned Harvard professor, only to be betrayed, sending her into a downward spiral of hopelessness. That is, until she finds a guide to fighting climate change in the professor’s library titled “Living the Solution.” With nothing to lose, she flies to the island of Eleutheria in the Bahamas, full of Ted Lasso can-do,  to join the author and his group of ecowarriors.

But—ouch!--nothing is what she expected.

The novel is partly satirical, yet an urgent, absorbing story that asks how we are meant to live, wrote a reviewer for The New Yorker. It’s a page turner made all the more compelling because the environmental disasters it describes may not be so fictional, said a reviewer for New York Journal of Books.

Hyde has a sharp eye for the culture-war chaos and breezy narcissism of modern American life and enough hope to hint that youth might save us from ourselves, wrote a reviewer for Entertainment Weekly.

Hyde is the Library’s latest Writer-in-Residence, spending a month in the residency apartment at the Ernest and Mary Hemingway house and Preserve while she works.

“Allegra’s novel ‘Eleutheria’ deftly engages with climate change and one individual’s desire to meaningfully respond to the chaos of the world,” said Martha Williams, the Library’s director of programs and education. “This was really exciting to us here at the Library amidst the rise of “cli-fi” (climate fiction) that is so often dystopian.

“Allegra’s language and her characters and their decisions are inventive and thrilling to read. We’re excited for our community to engage with her work—both her novel and her incredible short stories—and the opportunities she offers us to think about hope, its realities and dangers, and the many forms it may take.” 

 Originally from New Hampshire, Hyde now lives in Ohio where she teaches at Oberlin College. Her debut story collection “Of This New World” won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award. Her second story collection “The Last Catastrophe” will be published in March 2023 by Vintage.

A recipient of three Pushcart Prizes, her stories have appeared in “New England Review,” “Best Small Fictions” and other venues.

Reserve a chair to see her speak at https://thecommunitylibrary.libcal.com/event/9725364. The program will be livestreamed and recorded to watch later at https://vimeo.com/event/2690859. Chapter One Books will hold a book signing following the presentation.

 

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