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01/2012 Environment

For as long as I live, I will be giving words of warning,“ says Gudrun Pausewang – in the aftermath of the catastrophe in Fukushima, her novel about nuclear disaster, Fall-Out, has shot onto the German bestseller lists. The problem of nuclear energy, however, is not the only one the public is tackling at the moment, and with an intensity that had no longer seemed possible during this time of relative political apathy. But if today’s 11- to 13-year-olds, “generation Fukushima” as the Zeit called them, really experienced their political awakening because of the nuclear accident, which means of literary expression will they draw on? By means of what type of literature can they come to terms with their experiences from school lessons and TV? How do nature and the environment feature in the literature for children and young adults?

Nature and the environment cannot always be equated with environmental protection. As Trish Brooking shows in her commanding article “The Environment between Idyll and Terror”, children’s literature does not necessarily present nature as a quiet haven worthy of protection but at times also as an uncontrollable force – a fact that is of course deeply interwoven with the events in Japan. Karen Sands-O’Connor deals with questions of differing interpretations of environmental protection in the postcolonial context in her article on the environment in Caribbean children’s literature. Elisabeth Hollerweger addresses the question of how emotionally involving children’s literature on the environment needs to be in order to reach its readers not only on a cognitive level, and what kind of impact considerations of this kind have on the processes of awarding prices to ecological children’s literature. Jana Mikota analyzes the presentation of child and teen environmental activists and shows how the move of environmentalism to mainstream has been reflected in children’s literature.

We are particularly delighted to have been able to interview Gudrun Pausewang and to talk about moral in children’s literature, about the environment and right wing radicalism with her.