In Tiger Work, an evocative and often chilling collection of essays, poems and short stories about environmental catastrophe, the Booker prize winner Ben Okri urges us to remove our collective heads from the sand and take action to reverse the effects of the climate crisis. In the poem The Broken he notes: “The facts are horrific / The evidence overwhelming / And still we carry on / As if no crisis were looming.”
Taking in science, politics and future fantasy, the book is a literary howl of frustration at human inaction in the face of existential threat. In A Vision I Once Saw, a re-imagining of the story of Noah’s Ark, a man takes a potion that causes reality to bend before his eyes and during which he hallucinates “the last boat in the world” housing the few surviving animal species and “the last children left in a world that had gone wrong”. In And Peace Shall Return, a future civilisation stumbles upon tattered evidence of a “vanished species” who “altered nothing in their lives to try to avert the disaster that they saw coming and which was evident every day … They accepted, for centuries, that they were fundamentally unable to change.”
The London-based actor Ashley Zhangazha is the narrator, capturing the anxiousness of Okri’s visions of a post-apocalyptic world where surviving humans must learn the lessons of the past while shaping their own future, and conveying the urgency of the author’s entreaties to act now to ensure these visions don’t become reality. It’s with a note of desperation that he asks: “Can’t you hear the future weeping?”
• Tiger Work is available via WF Howes, 4hr 29min
The Bee Sting
Paul Murray, Penguin Audio, 26hr 10min
An ensemble cast including Heather O’Sullivan, Barry Fitzgerald and Beau Holland read this Booker-shortlisted novel about an Irish family in economic and emotional crisis.
Katherine Ryan, Blink Publishing, 7hr 36min
The Canada-born, London-based comic reads her frank and funny autobiography in which she recalls her years finding her voice, building her career and marrying her high-school sweetheart.