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Trouble Breathing

I have an essay in the Guardian this week, called Trouble Breathing:

Screenshot of Guardian article. Trouble breathing: We all breathe the same air, but we don't breathe equally. The question of who breathes, and who suffocates, is a question of who deserves to live. It’s a question that will only become more urgent as the climate crisis develops

It will also be published in the book Fire Flood Plague, edited by Sophie Cunningham, and out through Penguin Australia on December 1.

Book cover image for Fire Flood Plague, text on a red triangle, an orange square, and a yellow circle, with a grey-white background

For me, breath has been very central to what’s happening this year. It’s interesting to see that link being made here in Italy between the Black Lives Matter movement in the US and the struggles of migrants trying to survive their journeys in the Mediterranean. I took this photo at the harbour in Palermo, Sicily:

Photo of Palermo harbour on a clear day, boats in the background. Painted on rocks in the foreground in large white capital letters are the words I can't breathe

It was amazing to be able to see some parts of Italy over summer, but so strange to attempt to be on holiday during a pandemic. I struggled to relax, slept pretty badly, did a lot of doomscrolling and kept being hit by waves of grief and anger. I worry for friends in the US, and whenever I think about trying to get back to Australia, it just keeps getting further away. I have had a pretty nomadic couple of decades and these changes seem existential. It’s hard to imagine that travel will ever offer the same sense of freedom again.

As the weather cools, the second wave is beginning to crash here, so restrictions are returning. I get the sense that resilience is low, that everyone is suffering from a degree of pandemic fatigue; our baseline stress levels have shifted, and we’re all still doing the work of adapting to it in various ways, but that stress and labour has become less visible.

I am grateful to have work to do, especially work that lets me think through what’s happening in the world around me.

This last few weeks, I have been busy finishing the edits on The Airways, a process that has been tiring, rewarding, and a little bit haunted! Am pleased to report that it will be sent to the typesetter this month. Publication in Australia is set for August 2021. I can’t wait for you to read it.

Working on edits for The Airways at my “desk” in Torino