Fathoms: the world in the whale

By Rebecca Giggs
Scribe


Rebecca Giggs

Judges' report


Fathoms: the world in the whale is a haunting piece of narrative non-fiction that asks pertinent questions about how globalisation, consumption and our obsession with convenience is threatening the environment in connected and devastating ways. It is the impact of this interconnectedness – the messy entanglement with other humans, with the environment, and with animals – that is at the heart of Fathoms

Rebecca Giggs is expansive and generous in her thinking, and her philosophical and scientific research. One of the many strengths of this imaginative book is that Giggs does not use anthropomorphism to draw us in. Instead, she deftly coaxes a sense of intellectual and moral responsibility by using whales as a starting point for urgent conversations. 

With searing compassion and intellectual curiosity, Giggs has delivered a profound work that demands we rethink the ways we live – and how we seek and fail to protect delicate environments by confronting our individual and collective choices.

Further reading


Reviews 

‘Giggs’ meticulous research is itself awesome. Every page has its breathtaking revelations … this marvellous work of haunted wonder ends with a fiercely unabashed vision of humanity moved ‘from indecision to action’, for whales, for love, for the world.’  Felicity Plunkett, Sydney Morning Herald

‘[A] delving, haunted and poetic debut. Giggs is worth reading for her spotlight observations and lyricism alone, but she also has an important message to deliver … [S]he uses whales as invitations to consider everything else: the selfie-isation of environmentalism, the inherent worth of parasites, Jungian psychoanalysis, solar storms, whale songs records going multiplatinum and so much more. In the cascade of mini-essays that results, Giggs comes off as much as a cultural critic as a naturalist.’ Doug Bock Clark, New York Times Book Review

Fathoms is horrific, poetic and profound; a morbid dirge shot through with celestial light. As well as being an extensively researched and deeply considered study, the book is also a wunderkammer of tales that illustrate the hot mess of human aggression, obliviousness and folly …’ Justine Hyde, The Saturday Paper

Links 

Read ‘Whale Fall’ by Rebecca Giggs in Granta

Listen to  Rebecca Giggs speaking about Fathoms on the 2020 Sydney Writers’ Festival podcast

Read ‘Shelf Reflection: Rebecca Giggs’ on Kill Your Darlings