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Eliza Griswold discusses her novel “Amity and Prosperity”

Eliza Griswold discusses her novel “Amity and Prosperity”

“I’m standing here to tell you that you can actually do it.”

Eliza Griswold began her Modern Masters Reading on April 2 with this inspiring statement, urging her audience to follow their dreams of becoming a journalist or writer. Griswold is an American journalist and poet who currently lives in N.Y.C and teaches at NYU. She is an immersion journalist, meaning that she often spends years with people, analyzing their lives and interviewing them about the issues at hand.

In the case of her book “Amity and Prosperity,” the issue is fracking, which is the process of extracting oil by fracturing rock with high pressure liquid. In the United States, fracking occurs specifically in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Her novel follows the lives of Stacey Haney and her family, who live in Virginia alongside the fracking industry and have experienced its horrifying effects first-hand.

Haney explained to Griswold how the chemicals from these fracking sites have contaminated her and her family’s bodies and how many of her farm animals died due to inhaling these poisonous toxins. In her novel, Griswold discussed an incident where Haney’s neighbor, Beth, had a dog who drank out of what looked to be a normal puddle of water and ended up becoming sick and dying soon after. Haney’s own son has become extremely weak and ill due to the chemicals and contaminated water.

Griswold’s novel also focused on the future of our globe. Because Haney agreed to publicly share her story, an environmental crime investigation has been launched in her area to further examine the conditions of the drinking water and other environmental factors that are affected by fracking.

As Griswold mentioned, Haney was told that signing a contract to allow fracking near her home “will save America, and it will save her town.” She was also given $8,000 if she agreed to sign the contract, not knowing the life-threatening effects it would have on herself, her family, and her community.

Currently, Griswold is writing for “The New Yorker” about religion with a focus on Christian communities. She is experiencing first-hand the lives of individuals who live every day as Jesus did–in extreme poverty. These inspiring people are trying to change the world from the bottom up.

Griswold ended with one final, thought-provoking question: “Is it worth it to frack or not?”

Feature Image: Courtesy of Poetry Foundation.

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Eliza Griswold discusses her novel “Amity and Prosperity”