Anna Badkhen, Fisherman’s Blues: A West African Community at Sea, in conversation with Christopher White, The Last Lobster

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 - 6:00pm

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.

About Anna Badkhen

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 Times, Granta, The New Republic, and Foreign Policy.

The Last Lobster

From the author of Skipjack & The Melting World comes a mystery: the curious boom in America’s beloved lobster industry and its probable crash

Maine lobstermen have happened upon a bonanza along their rugged, picturesque coast. For the past five years, the lobster population along the coast of Maine has boomed, resulting in a lobster harvest six times the size of the record catch from the 1980s―an event unheard of in fisheries. In a detective story, scientists and fishermen explore various theories for the glut. Leading contenders are a sudden lack of predators and a recent wedge of warming waters, which may disrupt the reproductive cycle, a consequence of climate change.

Christopher White's The Last Lobster follows three lobster captains―Frank, Jason, and Julie (one the few female skippers in Maine)―as they haul and set thousands of traps. Unexpectedly, boom may turn to bust, as the captains must fight a warming ocean, volatile prices, and rough weather to keep their livelihood afloat. The three captains work longer hours, trying to make up in volume what they lack in price. As a result, there are 3 million lobster traps on the bottom of the Gulf of Maine, while Frank, Jason, and others call for a reduction of traps. This may in boost prices. The Maine lobstering towns are among the first American communities to confront global warming, and the survival of the Maine Coast depends upon their efforts.

It may be an uphill battle to create a sustainable catch as high temperatures are already displacing lobsters northward toward Canadian waters―out of reach of American fishermen. The last lobster may be just ahead.

Fisherman's Blues: A West African Community at Sea Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781594634864
Availability: Available to Ship - Est. Delivery in 8-13 Business Days
Published: Riverhead Books - March 13th, 2018

The Last Lobster: Boom or Bust for Maine's Greatest Fishery? Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250080851
Availability: Available to Ship - Est. Delivery in 8-13 Business Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - June 5th, 2018