The Mortal Crisis of Our Time

Publication Date: Nov 14, 2017

608 pp


List Price US $16.99
ISBN: 978-1-59051-835-9


List Price US $32.95
Trim Size (H x W): 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-1-59051-834-2

A masterpiece of literary reportage, Hunger offers a critical overview of the causes of mass starvation and the gross inadequacy of our response.

Each day 25,000 men, women, and children die of hunger or malnutrition. Never in the entire history of humanity has any epidemic or war taken such a toll. Yet there is no lack of food: our planet is groaning under the weight of its overproduction, and trade continues apace.

How can this paradox be investigated and presented without degenerating into a mere list of statistics? Martín Caparrós answers this question by telling the stories of the people he has encountered—from Niger to Bangladesh, from the Sudan to Madagascar, from the USA to Argentina, from India to Spain—making them come alive on the page. In the process, he gives us a staggering sense of what we have done wrong by trying to do right and by letting greed, carelessness, and lack of vision take over an issue that should have been solved long ago.

Excerpt from Private: Hunger

I think this book started here, in a town very close to here deep in Niger, a few years ago when I was sitting with Aisha on a straw mat in front of the door to her hut—midday sweat, dry earth, shadow of a spindly tree, the shouts of scattered children—when she told me about the ball of millet she ate every day of her life, and I asked her if she really ate a ball of millet every day of her life, and we had our first cultural misunderstanding:

“Well, every day I can,” she said and lowered her eyes in shame, and I felt like such an ass. We kept talking about food and her lack thereof, and for the first time I, silly me, was face-to-face with the most extreme form of hunger, and after a few hours full of surprises, I asked her—for the first time, the question I would subsequently ask so often—what she would ask for if she could ask for anything, if a wizard told her he would grant her any wish. It took Aisha a while to respond to a question she’d never even dreamed of. Aisha was thirty or thirty-five years old; she had a concave nose, sad eyes, and a lilac-colored piece of fabric covering the rest of her.

“I would ask for a cow that would give lots of milk, so I could sell a little of the milk and buy what I need to make puff-puffs [beignets] to sell in the market, and then I’d be able to get by, more or less.”

“But the wizard could give you anything, anything you want.”

“Really, anything?”

“Yes, whatever you want.”

“Two cows?”

She said this in a whisper, then explained:

“With two, then I’d really never be hungry.”

It was so little, I thought at first.

And it was so much.

“Astounding, useful, and extraordinarily well-informed.” —Jean Ziegler

“Martín Caparrós’ Hunger is much more than an essay, much more than a novel…Caparrós uses literature to bring us into an inferno of reality. Of faraway reality on which one only gives one’s distracted attention. Caparrós shows he is aware of this.” —Roberto Saviano

“Strange, singular, violent, necessary. Caparrós’ writing has a memorable pulse.” —Antonio Lucas, El Mundo

“It impresses, discomforts, and fascinates. It gives a hard blow to our too comfortable civilization.” —Núria Escur, La Vanguardia