Ben Rawlence latest goes to Cape

Ben Rawlence latest goes to Cape

Jonathan Cape will publish a book by author Ben Rawlence about what trees can "tell us about the future of our planet”.

Bea Hemming, acting publishing director of Jonathan Cape, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to The Treeline from Sophie Lambert at the C&W Agency. North American rights were pre-empted by Elisabeth Dyssegaard at St Martin’s Press.

The book offers “a blend of reportage, nature, travel and science writing, deeply researched and beautifully written, underpinned by a startling and urgent message for our time”. It will be published in spring 2021.

The synopsis reads: “The Arctic Treeline is the shifting zone where the taiga, the boreal forest that encircles the globe in an almost unbroken green ring, meets the arctic tundra of the far north. Six of the trees that characterise this little-known region - Larch, Spruce, Mountain Ash, Downy Birch, Poplar and Scots Pine - form the protagonists of Ben Rawlence’s story.”

The book covers Rawlence’s travels to Scotland, northern Scandinavia, Siberia, Canada, Alaska and Greenland to “discover what these trees and the people who live and work with them have to tell us about the future of our planet”.

“The significance of this ring of forest and its rich biome has only recently been widely recognised," the publihser said. "How the species in this zone respond to warming will shape the ability of the boreal forest to produce the fresh air and fresh water that sustains life on earth. The Treeline offers insights into the nature of our changing climate over the coming decades and a stark vision of the future.”

Rawlence says: “The boreal forest is critical to the maintenance of a planet fit for human life. I’m delighted that The Treeline will be published by Jonathan Cape and look forward to working with the team to bring that message to as wide an audience as possible.” 

Hemming says: “I have long admired Ben Rawlence’s writing, and I am so thrilled to be publishing his new book at Cape. The Treeline will be a book of great urgency and beauty, and a future classic of nature and travel writing.”

Rawlence is the author of City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp (Granta) and Radio Congo: Signals of Hope from Africa’s Deadliest War (Oneworld). He grew up in England and studied Swahili at the universities of London and Dar-es-Salaam (Tanzania) and then an MA in International Relations at the University of Chicago. He worked for Human Rights Watch in Africa for seven years and now works full-time as an author and speaker. In 2016, he co-founded Black Mountains College in Wales, a liberal arts college inspired by the radical example of the original Black Mountain College in North Caroline, in the US.