Abby Seiff presents "Troubling the Water," with Gabriella Burnham

March 23, 2022, 7:30 PM

Abby Seiff joins us to present her new book Troubling the Water: A Dying Lake and a Vanishing World in Cambodia, in conversation with Gabriella Burnham. This virtual event will take place on Zoom. Register here:

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In this intimate account of one of the world’s most productive inland fisheries, Troubling the Water explores how the rapid destruction of a single lake in Cambodia is upending the lives of millions. The abundance of Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake helped grow the country for millenia and gave rise to the Kingdom of Angkor. Fed by the rich, mud-colored waters of the powerful Mekong River, the lake owes its vast bounty to an ecological miracle that has captivated poets, artisans, and explorers throughout history.

But today, the lake is dying. Hydropower dams hold back billions of gallons of water and disrupt critical fish migration paths. On the lake, illegal fishing abetted by corruption is now unstoppable. A fast-changing climate, meanwhile, has seen a string of devastating droughts.

Troubling the Water follows ordinary Cambodians coping with the rapid erasure of a long-held way of life. Drawing on years of reporting in Cambodia, Abby Seiff traces the changes on the Tonle Sap—weaving together vivid stories of those most affected with sharp insight into one of the most threatened lakes in the world. For the millions who depend on it, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Abby Seiff is a journalist and editor who was based in Southeast Asia for nearly a decade, writing for publications like Time, Al JazeeraMekong Review, and Pacific Standard, among others. Her reporting has garnered several awards as well as fellowships from Yaddo and the Logan Nonfiction Program. She is currently studying for an MFA at Brooklyn College. (Photo credit: Charles Fox)

Gabriella Burnham's debut novel, It Is Wood, It Is Stone, was named a best book of the year by Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Publisher’s Weekly, and Good Housekeeping magazines. She holds an MFA in creative writing from The Writer’s Foundry at St. Joseph’s College and has been awarded fellowships to MacDowell and Yaddo. She and her partner live in Brooklyn, NY with their two rescue kitties, Galleta and Franz. (Photo credit: Sylvie Rosokoff)