In this captivating debut, science writer Imbler shines a light on the mysterious sea creatures that live in Earth’s most inhospitable reaches, drawing parallels to their own experience of adaptation and survival. In “My Mother and the Starving Octopus,” Imbler describes octopus brooding—a process during which a female starves and withers to death while protecting her eggs—and uses it as a poignant launching point to delve into the ramifications of their mother’s disordered relationship with food. In “Pure Life,” Imbler considers the yeti crab, marveling at how it survives atop hydrothermal vents, little islands of heat on the ocean floor, and recounts their own experience craving closeness: “I wanted communities that warmed me until I tingled.” Science, race, and the act of writing are at the core of the deeply personal “Hybrids,” in which Imbler describes their fixation on a butterflyfish that was the offspring of two different species and dissects their changing experience writing about race. Imbler’s ability to balance illuminating science journalism with candid personal revelation is impressive, and the mesmerizing glints of lyricism are a treat. This intimate deep dive will leave readers eager to see where Imbler goes next. (Dec.)
author of Vagina Obscura RACHEL E. GROSS
How Far the Light Reaches is a creature unlike any other—one that grips you with its tentacles and pulls you down into new depths. It is impossible to read this book and not be transformed.
From the Publisher
How Far the Light Reaches draws startling, moving connections between the lives of sea creatures and our existence on solid ground; between the vast depths of the ocean and the similarly mysterious expanse of inner experience. Working at the nexus of nature writing and memoir, Sabrina Imbler is beautifully reinventing both genres." —ANGELA CHEN, author of ACE
New York Times Bestselling author of I Contain Mul ED YONG
This is a miraculous, transcendental book. Across these essays, Imbler has choreographed a dance of metaphor between the wonders of the ocean’s creatures and the poignancy of human experience, each enriching the other in surprising and profound ways. To write with such grace, skill, and wisdom would be impressive enough; to have done so in their first major work is truly breathtaking. Sabrina Imbler is a generational talent, and this book is a gift to us all.
author of How to Pronounce Knife SOUVANKHAM THAMMAVONGSA
A pinwheel of awe spinning one 'wow' after another.
New York Times bestselling author of A Burning MEGHA MAJUMDAR
“How Far the Light Reaches marks the arrival of a phenomenal writer creating an intellectual channel entirely their own, within which whales and feral goldfish swim by the enchantment, ache, and ecstasy of human life.
NYT bestselling author of With Teeth KRISTEN ARNETT
Compulsively readable, beautifully lyric, and wildly tender, How Far the Light Reaches asks the reader to sink down, slip beneath, swim forward with outstretched hands, trusting that Sabrina Imbler is there to guide us through the dark. It presents the body as one that might morph and grow in any number of directions. How do we see ourselves? Can we learn to unsee? A breathtaking, mesmerizing debut from a tremendous talent.
Revealing the glories of marine life through 10 distinctive creatures, like the mother octopus who starves herself while tending her eggs, science writer Imbler then reveals their own experiences as a queer, biracial author to connect these often endangered sea creatures to marginalized human communities.