Narrating Loss in James Bradley’s "Clade" (2015); or, Introducing Arrested Narrative in Climate Fiction


  • Karoline Huber University of Stuttgart
  • Geoff Rodoreda University of Stuttgart



arrested narrative, climate fiction, econarratology, empathy, "Clade"


In James Bradley’s futuristic novel of climate crises, Clade (2015), characters constructed to evoke empathy and readerly attachment, characters we expect to be further developed narratologically, are prone to sudden, unexpected and unexplained disappearances. The development of cared-for characters is thus ‘arrested’ at the level of narration. For readers, this is disarming and disconcerting. However, we find purpose in such acts of narratorial breakage in cli-fi like Clade. In contemporary stories of climate crises, which project environmental destruction, the loss of habitats and species, and severe disruption to human and nonhuman lives, the arrestation of a character’s development parallels a sense of environmental loss evoked at the level of storied content. Put another way, the sudden disappearance of character-story at the level of form imitates the sudden erasure of species, ecosystems and lived experience in the storyworld of Clade. We call such narratological innovation arrested narrative. In this essay we define and describe the appearance and function of arrested narrative in Clade, in some depth, as well as its emergence in two other novels of climate crises, Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From (2017) and Diane Cook’s The New Wilderness (2020). While investigations into narrative form in stories of the Anthropocene are not new, ecocritical literary scholarship remains largely focussed on story-level content. This examination of the way arrests in narrative discourse parallel environmental ruptures at the level of content, in selected cli-fi, is aimed at contributing to the emerging field of “econarratology” (James), concerned with the study of the workings of both form and content in ecocritical narratives.


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Author Biographies

Karoline Huber, University of Stuttgart

Karoline Huber completed her Master of Arts degree at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. Her MA thesis was concerned with narratological innovation in a range of British, North American, and Australian climate fiction. She is currently working as a PhD candidate for the Department of English Literatures and Cultures at the University of Stuttgart. Her dissertation investigates intergenerational tensions in climate fiction.

Geoff Rodoreda, University of Stuttgart

Geoff Rodoreda is a lecturer in the Department of English Literatures and Cultures at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. He studied politics, media theory and journalism in Sydney, Australia, and worked as a journalist at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Adelaide, Sydney and Darwin before moving to Germany in 1996. He completed a PhD in English literature in Stuttgart, which resulted in a monograph, The Mabo Turn in Australian Fiction (Peter Lang, 2018). He is also the co-editor of Mabo’s Cultural Legacy: History, Literature, Film and Cultural Practice in Contemporary Australia (Anthem, 2021). He teaches and publishes in the fields of Australian studies, postcolonial literatures, ecocriticism and contemporary British fiction.