Hodder & Stoughton will publish Jay Owens' Dust: A History and a Future of Environmental Disaster, the first book to examine the "importance of this tiny substance as the residue and record of our modern lives".
Huw Armstrong, senior commissioning editor, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Max Edwards at Aevitas Creative Management UK. Hodder & Stoughton will publish in hardback, trade paperback, audio and e-book in 2022.
Dust is developed from the email newsletter "Disturbances", which Owens created to "explore dust as a method for seeing the world anew – from space dust to sandstorms, the domestic to the digital". Owens' study developed into a story about the deep entanglements of people, capitalism, and the natural environment, from the earliest industrial history into the future speculative technologies for geoengineering a cooler planet, Hodder said. The book will reveal that all human history is recorded in the dust we create and how the substance, in its many and varied forms, plays a vital role in Earth’s metabolism.
Owens is a writer and researcher based in London. She started to think about dust in 2008, after casting around for a topic for her master’s thesis in geography and architectural theory at UCL. Her writing has been published in the Guardian, Roads and Kingdoms and Apollo magazine.
She commented: "I’m phenomenally excited to have the opportunity to develop this work at book length and fully explore the past, present and future of this strange, horrifying, remarkable material for a wider audience. There is a story in here about the 'ethics of dust' that I hope will resonate: a story about the importance of cleaning up the messes we make. Amid environmental catastrophe, some unexpected stories of hope, of salvage and repair."
Armstrong said: "Dust, then. Pretty ordinary stuff. That is, until Jay starts writing about it. This book brings dust to life in a way you never thought possible. Her writing is clear-eyed and vivid, immediately taking you on a journey around the world and into some of the darkest moments in history. Jay has written something truly special here, blending the environment, history, geography and politics into a memorable and important tale. I’m thrilled to be publishing this one."
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