‘The Big Necessity’: Plumbing the Global Politics of Human Waste
Travel Blog • Julia Ross • 10.21.08 | 8:41 AM ET
Ah, cross-cultural toilet culture: It’s a fascinating topic we’ve broached with frankness here before. Still, I’m in awe of British journalist Rose George, whose new book, “The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters,” tells you everything you ever wanted to know about human defecation and more. In a riveting interview with Salon, George provides a round-the-world tour of bathroom behaviors, expounding on paper versus water cultures, high-tech Japanese washlets, Kenyan “helicopter toilets,” and Mumbai’s grim sanitation situation.
“We should worship the toilet,” she says. “It’s been an enormous medical advance. It’s been fantastic, so I think that we should give it its due.”
Potty humor aside, George’s willingness to lift the lid on a serious, and largely ignored, global health issue is drawing praise from reviewers. Says Slate, “The Big Necessity belongs in a rare handful of studies that take a subject that seems fixed and familiar and taboo and makes us understand it is historically contingent and dazzlingly intriguing.”
For more, check out excerpts from the book here.