Posnett moves from one example to another with moral precision, wryness and a refusal to be discouraged. Stories build subtly and sometimes with sudden drama; all are entangled in complex political, cultural and ecological circumstances. Possibilities open and close. Palm oil plantations replacing the forests in Java do not provide sufficient insects for the swifts, who depart, leaving bird-houses empty like rustbelt factories. Sendero Luminoso guerrillas invade a nature reserve for vicuñas. Factory farming methods tempt the makers of civet coffee. Idealism, including Posnett’s own, finds itself repeatedly wrong-footed. But the quest continues. It has to; the need is so strong.
All the same, Harvest is a truly remarkable debut, weird, inquisitive and swarming with memorable characters. Posnett’s second book will be worth watching for.