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Battle of the Canadian Environmental Novel: Nikolski
-I believe that Nicolas Dickner’s Nikolski is the “best” Canadian environmental novel. The work
is an entertaining narrative that encourages a deep-ecological re-visioning of the world.
-Nikolski is grounded within a contemporary capitalist framework, but reality is reimagined as
something positive and full of possibility; urban spaces become sites of sustainability, garbage is
revalued, and strangers are shown to be connected in a larger ecological web.
-Unlike the other contenders, Dickner’s novel does not rely on pessimism to generate an
affective response to the ecological crises, but instead demonstrates real and achievable ways to
help combat this issue while existing within a capitalist society.
-The ecology advocated here occurs on the personal level that simultaneously highlights the
larger connection that exists between species and their environment. Character such as Joyce and
the unnamed narrator do not reject capitalism, but exists on its fringes like counter-cultural
pirates who plunder its products for personal gain. Objects such as The Nikolski compass,
Joyce’s computer parts, and the Three-Headed Book are never destroyed despite their potential
designation as garbage, but circulate between characters, thus, empathizing the value attached to
capital waste. Nikolski’s frame-narrative structure works to show the how the character’s
seemingly individualistic actions serve a larger environmental agenda.
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