Why Rebel

A book of love and anger

**The most tragic word in the English language is the word ‘endling.’ It refers to the last individual of a species, at whose death the species is extinct. Nature is not a hobby. It is the life on which we depend.

Griffiths writes, in these essays, on the loss of forest habitat for other living creatures which gave rise to the coronavirus, of the new right and libertarian fascism, racism, indignity, the fact of there being perhaps sixty harvests left in the exhausted earth, the relationship between human happiness and animals, and the death of the insects. She also describes her involvement with Extinction Rebellion: her arrest and trial, and the judge’s response. (In tears. ‘You have to succeed.’).

Jay writes from the perspective of ‘peoples of the earth’, the indigenous perspective, the metaphoric vision at the heart of forest, shamanism and art. She looks at the political, environmental, and social crisis we face using history, anthropology and art to reveal cultural patterns and uncover the myths behind the moment.


“Jay Griffiths is such a unique talent and is, in my opinion, one of our greatest and most important writers of this and any other time. She is part of that lineage which includes William Blake and Walt Whitman and I get that same feeling when I read her words and theirs: I feel so alive, so vital, a kind of bursting at the seams with joy and love.

Why Rebel is not only important at this time but also magnificent, in the true meaning of that word. It contains not just important truths and beautiful words: the book communicates to the reader, through exquisite and deep prose, a sense of that profound and mysterious relationship with Earth, our home and all life upon it. It is truly extraordinary.”

– Ed O’Brien, Radiohead

“A bold and innovative writer who’s always exploring new frontiers of thought and feeling and new ways of writing about them. A great stylist, lively and curious, she writes beautifully, about a very wide range of topics. But in every case, she brings something to them that nobody else could bring. And that is Jay Griffiths. She has her feet on the land, and her eyes on the stars.”
– George Monbiot

‘I read this book today and I recommend it highly and mightily, thoroughly and wholeheartedly’ Stanley Donwood

“Jay Griffiths’s writing has reduced me to hot throbs of grief; through beauty and subtlety, to the depths of the hurt of these times..and what a liberation to express this, to free the space in my chest to feel the love that propels me forwards.”
– Gail Bradbrook, Co-founder, Extinction Rebellion

‘Such an important book – it should be required reading for all policy makers everywhere. This is the urgent wake-up call they need and a challenge to dare to feel the reality of the nature and climate emergencies. Because having felt it on the vital visceral level that Jay captures in the poetry and passion of her book, they would themselves be changed – and we’d stand a better chance of changing the world as a result’ Caroline Lucas, MP

“It is hard to imagine a more necessary book – nor one more beautiful, more rich and passionate”
– Tom Bullough

“Right. Put down what you’re doing. Whatever it is, this matters more. Read it fast. Then read it again, slowly. You’ll want to: this is the real thing – surging, urgent, and most terribly beautiful. It will be a searing and painful joy. You’ll be different by the end. Then change the world while you can.”
– Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast

“When surrounded by death and destruction the most human thing to do is to engage in an act of kindness. Why Rebel is such an act. It made me cry ” – Roger Hallam, Co-founder, Extinction Rebellion

“Always a writer of such dazzle and depth, Jay Griffiths has surpassed herself with Why Rebel. There is of course the passionate erudition and deep humanity that we have come to expect of her, but there is so much more too. She writes with a new urgency, from this very point in time, as a pandemic wreaks societal havoc, climate breakdown accelerates and thuggish populism rises. Her focus is laser-like, unblinking, calling out culprits and charlatans, and fighting fascists with the things they fear the most: clarity, truth, wit. She dances between topics and weaves them together, thrillingly, making a delightful read, an adrenaline-packed ride with far-reaching views. Why Rebel demands the very highest response from its readers. Jay Griffiths has given us a clarion call for revolution. Nothing less will do.”
– Mike Parker

“Chewy, erudite, filled with swing: this is a dazzling book, urgent without ever being worthy, a book that crackles. Why Rebel is a Tardis, to read it is to enter the massive, a deep interior that hydrates vocation in a time of trouble.” – Martin Shaw, author of Smoke Hole

“This short book is beautifully written, and packs a powerful emotional punch. I found myself welling up as I reached the end. At this desperate moment in human history, Why Rebel is surely part of the wake-up call we need.” -Prof. Rupert Read, former national XR spokesperson and author,Parents for a future

“Why Rebel is a kind and urgent book. This is a planet still full of tingling life, it just needs these true words spoken to transform it.”
– Jules Pretty

“Jay Griffiths is a True North of a writer.”
– Melanie McGrath

Penguin Podcast

XR Podcast

– Guardian

The Spaceship Earth podcast
Episode 47 – Jay Griffiths – Why Rebel — The SpaceShip Earth