On Time and Water

Year: 2019
Genre: Narrative Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Highlights
Pages: 320
Translation: 32 languages

In the next hundred years, the nature of water on Earth will undergo fundamental change. Glaciers will melt, the level of the sea 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 that we know, and everyone that 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? In an attempt to capture this vast issue, Andri Snær Magnason takes both a personal and a scientific approach – 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.


“With poetry and wonder Andri summons deep emotions about our place on our planet. I was deeply moved and inspired by his words.” 
— Darren Aronofsky

“There are plenty of books about the climate crisis. But Mr Andri Snaer Magnason’s perspective on his country’s environment is unique and compelling.”
— The Economist

“Andri Snær Magnason combines intimate history and collective mythology, essay reflection and memorial exploration, geography and environment, to the point of bringing the elusive reality of climate change painfully and dangerously close to each of us.”
Paolo Giordano, author of Heaven and Earth, La Lettura Corriere della Sera, Italy

On Time and Water is about connections—across generations, cultures, landscapes, and species—showing us how delicate are the networks on which our survival depends, how precariously all natural life is poised on the brink of destruction. Combining memoir, interviews, literature, and science to give words to a catastrophe too enormous to comprehend, this book is a letter of farewell to lost worlds and a passionate appeal to preserve what remains.”
Anuradha Roy, author of All the Lives We Never Lived

“It is difficult to express to someone who has not read it how wonderful and how horrifying—in a nutshell, how truly vital—this book is. Magnason has created a masterpiece, staunchly scientific and highly informative, yet utterly raw in its humanity. He marvels at the cruelty and destruction we have wrought, his lyrical prose a passionate plea to preserve as much of our unearned paradise as possible for future generations. And through all this, he does not shy away from speaking with almost spiritual reverence about the unequivocal, inalienable sanctity of mother nature.
Read this unforgettable book to understand the enormity of the task ahead of us, and to have your mind—and heart—irrevocably changed.”
Rachel Farmer, Asymptotejournal.com

“Both deeply investigative and intimately personal, it’s an appeal to change that draws as much on the mythological traditions of his homeland as scientific research. A climate book unlike any before it.”
Chicago Review of Books

“Magnason’s empathetic rendering of changes that “surpass most of the language and metaphors we use to navigate our reality” makes an impact. Climate-concerned readers will find much to consider.”
Publishers Weekly

Throuw, The Netherlands

“The book of the year.”
Kolbrun Bergthorsdottir, Frettabladid daily, Iceland

“… incredibly powerful … fascinating, funny and inspirational.”
Silja Adalsteinsdottir, TMM, literary magazine, Iceland

“The book On Time and Water makes it clear that if humanity is to combat the environmental threats of our day, the power of our scientific insights and of our personal emotions must be united. Andri Snær Magnason’s work On Time and Water is about our Earth and the future of our children and our descendants. The book is written in a balanced and insightful manner, based on a deep understanding of the subject and a strong will to make the world a better place than it is today.”
Nomination for The Nordic Council Literature Prize, jury’s comments

“Andri Snær Magnason is a brilliant and imaginative author. He is concerned by the state of world affairs and has a way of presenting them as an entertaining tale – even when they might imply the end of the world. … It takes an exceptional, disciplined storyteller and writer to manage to connect persons and places with such art as Andri Snær displays in the present book. It is also a beautiful object in itself.”
Bjorn Bjarnason, Morgunbladid daily, Iceland

“This is an impressive and powerful book, masterfully written and of utmost importance.”
Brynhildur Bjornsdottir, Frettabladid daily, Iceland

“This book is a flawless, major work, dealing with the most important issues of our times, the way mankind is ill-treating the Earth and everything on it, also the oceans and the societies we have created.  … a ground-breaking work, a reminder to the reader of the stage we have reached, and of the reasons why we must care about Earth, and about Iceland, a part of it. Earth could indeed become a junkyard, if we are not mindful.”
Magnus Halldorsson, Kjarninn.is, Iceland

”The way he manages to build bridges from generation to generation is just beautiful. … The storytelling is compelling. This is a masterful book, leading the reader ahead, then takes leave, and the reader resolves to become a better person. … This book should be compulsory for everyone, and it should be enjoyed all around the world. Without any doubt, the best we’ve seen from Andri Snær so far.”
— Kolbrun Bergthorsdottir, Kiljan, National TV, Iceland

 “I hope everyone will read this book. … Incredibly well conceived. … Magnason manages to gather so many trends, his writing is crystal clear.”
Sverrir Norland, Kiljan, National TV, Iceland

 “… an integral and utterly captivating work. I have studied climate change, written about it and taught it for more than twenty years. … the book revealed new dimensions to me. The fear within me became more acutely felt as I admitted how overwhelmingly huge this problem is, but I also felt the hope that maybe we could, after all, find effective ways and means, if we manage to work together, face the challenge and use our minds, hearts and hands to seek solutions.”
Audur H. Ingolfsdottir, Menningarsmygl, Iceland