On Time and Water


by Andri Snær Magnason

March 16, 2021
nonfiction | hc | 329 pgs.
6" x 9" 


“Eco-lit needs more attention, and devotees will be pleased to discover a new addition from the Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason, who writes with a Seussian mix of wonder, wit and gravitas. . . . Immensely satisfying.“—New York Times on The Story of the Blue Planet

In the next hundred years, the nature of water on Earth will undergo a fundamental change. Glaciers will melt, the sea level will rise, and its acidity will change more than it has in the past 50 million years. These changes will affect all life on Earth, everyone who we know, and everyone who we love. It is more complex than the mind can comprehend, greater than all of our past experience, bigger than language. What words can grasp an issue of this magnitude?

Andri Snær Magnason takes both a personal and a scientific approach in an attempt to capture this vast issue—weaving his way through climate science via ancient legends about sacred cows, stories of ancestors and relatives, and interviews with the Dalai Lama. The resulting narrative is at once a travel story, a world history, and a reminder to live in harmony with future generations.

Translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith


About the Author: Andri Snær Magnason is one of Iceland’s most celebrated writers. He has won the Icelandic Literary Prize for fiction, children’s fiction, and non-fiction. In 2009, Magnason co-directed the documentary Dreamland, which was based on his book Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation (forthcoming from Open Letter). In 2010, Magnason was awarded the Kairos Prize, presented to outstanding individuals in the field of intercultural understanding. Magnason ran for president of Iceland in 2016 and came third out of nine candidates.

About the Translator: Lytton Smith is a poet, professor, and translator from the Icelandic. His most recent translations include works by Kristin Ómarsdóttir, Jón Gnarr, Ófeigur Sigurðsson, and Guðbergur Bergsson. His most recent poetry collection, The All-Purpose Magical Tent, was published by Nightboat. Having earned his MFA and PhD from Columbia University, he currently teaches at SUNY Geneseo.


Praise for Andri Snær Magnason:

“I loved this book so much—it is a cerebral tale, well told and unabashedly philosophical. It is dark, funny and grim.”
New York Times on The Casket of Time

“Orwell, Vonnegut, and Douglas Adams are felt on every page, though Magnason is never derivative. His satire and insightful social commentary sweeten the pot and the sheer wackiness of Magnason’s oversized imagination is invigorating.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Lovestar

“Strange and refreshing—a lushly imagined future that reminded me of Vonnegut and Brautigan.”
—Ed Park, author of 
Personal Days on Lovestar

“The love child of Chomsky and Lewis Carroll.”
—Rebecca Solnit on 
The Casket of Time