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Past Events

Anna Badkhen: Fisherman's Blues

The Wild Detectives

Author Anna Badkhen will read from and discuss her new book, Fisherman’s Blues about her experience living and working in the West African port of Joal, Senegal, joining in the “primordial sloshing” aboard handcrafted boats that, day and night, in calm or storm, set out into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean for fish.

Fisherman’s Blues is an intimate account of life in a West African fishing village, tugged by currents ancient and modern, and dependent on an ocean that is being radically transformed. The sea is broken, fishermen say. The sea is empty. The genii have taken the fish elsewhere.

For centuries, fishermen have launched their pirogues from the Senegalese port of Joal, where the fish used to be so plentiful a man could dip his hand into the grey-green ocean and pull one out as big as his thigh. But in an Atlantic decimated by overfishing and climate change, the fish are harder and harder to find. Here, Badkhen discovers, all boundaries are permeable–between land and sea, between myth and truth, even between storyteller and story.

Fisherman’s Blues immerses us in a community navigating a time of unprecedented environmental, economic, and cultural upheaval with resilience, ingenuity, and wonder.

“A masterpiece. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the natural world captured so authentically. Badkhen makes it immediate, vivid, vital–sacred, actually. She is digging down into the truth of human experience on the planet at this time, and the book resonates with all our time on the planet.”
–Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

Anna Badkhen has spent much of her life in the Global South. Her immersive investigations of the world’s iniquities have yielded six books of nonfiction, most recently The World Is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village and Walking with Abel: Journeys with the Nomads of the African Savannah. Badkhen contributes to The New York TimesGrantaGuernica, and Foreign Policy. This year she is a writer in residence at the Tulsa Artist Fellowship.

Badkhen is an old friend of The Wild Detectives where she has presented 2 of her previous books. Fisherman’s Blues comes out in March this year, and she very kindly will celebrate its launch with us!

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