India, Dec. 14 -- In October 2016, Amitav Ghosh wrote an essay in The Guardian that hinged on a pertinent question: Where is the fiction about climate change? Scientists were losing sleep over the environmental emergency. Newspapers had blaring headlines about it. Even the kids were concerned. Ghosh had just written a climate-related non-fiction book, The Great Derangement. But novels about the subject - the kind with rich storytelling, strong narratives and memorable characters, he said, were missing. He called it "a crisis of culture and of the imagination".

It wasn't quite that. Novels featuring the changing environment were being written all through the 2000s. They just hadn't captured the public imagination. You know why? The climat...