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

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


$18.95 / £15.99
Published (US):
Jun 8, 2021
Published (UK):
Jul 13, 2021
5.25 x 8 in.
29 halftones.
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Matsutake is the most valuable mushroom in the world—and a weed that grows in human-disturbed forests across the Northern Hemisphere. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s account of these sought-after fungi offers insights into areas far beyond just mushrooms and addresses a crucial question: What manages to live in the ruins we have made? The Mushroom at the End of the World explores the unexpected corners of matsutake commerce, where we encounter Japanese gourmets, capitalist traders, Hmong jungle fighters, Finnish nature guides, and more. These companions lead us into fungal ecologies and forest histories to better understand the promise of cohabitation in a time of massive human devastation. The Mushroom at the End of the World delves into the relationship between capitalist destruction and collaborative survival within multispecies landscapes, the prerequisite for continuing life on earth.

Awards and Recognition

  • Winner of the 2016 Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing, Society for Humanistic Anthropology
  • Winner of the 2016 Gregory Bateson Prize, The Society for Cultural Anthropology
  • Finalist for the 2016 Northern California Book Awards in General Nonfiction, Northern California Book Reviewers
  • One of Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Books of 2015 in Business and Economics
  • One of Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Books of 2015 in Science
  • One of Flavorwire’s 10 Best Books by Academic Publishers in 2015
  • One of Times Higher Education’s Best Books of 2015