You are here

The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins Cover Image
On Our Shelves Now
On hand as of Apr 21 10:15am

Staff Reviews

What a title, right? This is a rare offering, a book that lights up the space between fragmented places, reveals their closeness - the light, a treasured mushroom. Our ecological, economic, and humanitarian crises are all different faces of one multi-headed beast. This book, like all my favorites, reminds us that every event and object and being is bound to every other, that our natural worlds and constructed worlds are mirrored images. And as the matsutake mushroom thrives in devastated areas, so exists the potential for the fruiting of treasures elsewhere, here, now, and in our future, fragile as ever.

— From Madison's Picks!


What a rare mushroom can teach us about sustaining life on a fragile planet

Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world--and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the northern hemisphere. Through its ability to nurture trees, matsutake helps forests to grow in daunting places. It is also an edible delicacy in Japan, where it sometimes commands astronomical prices. In all its contradictions, matsutake offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: what manages to live in the ruins we have made?

A tale of diversity within our damaged landscapes, The Mushroom at the End of the World follows one of the strangest commodity chains of our times to explore the unexpected corners of capitalism. Here, we witness the varied and peculiar worlds of matsutake commerce: the worlds of Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, industrial forests, Yi Chinese goat herders, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions also lead us into fungal ecologies and forest histories to better understand the promise of cohabitation in a time of massive human destruction.

By investigating one of the world's most sought-after fungi, The Mushroom at the End of the World presents an original examination into the relation between capitalist destruction and collaborative survival within multispecies landscapes, the prerequisite for continuing life on earth.

About the Author

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing is professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Niels Bohr Professor at Aarhus University in Denmark, where she codirects Aarhus University Research on the Anthropocene (AURA). She is the author of Friction and In the Realm of the Diamond Queen (both Princeton).
Product Details
ISBN: 9780691178325
ISBN-10: 0691178321
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication Date: September 19th, 2017
Pages: 352
Language: English