Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction Psychological

Birnam Wood

A Novel

by (author) Eleanor Catton

Publisher
McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Mar 2023
Category
Psychological, Nature & the Environment, Psychological
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9780771024375
    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price
    $36.95

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Description

From the Booker Prize–winning author of The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton’s Birnam Wood is a gripping psychological thriller grounded in a provocative and sly exploration of some of the most pressing issues of our times. Named one of the most anticipated books of the year by the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Winnipeg Free Press, Maclean's, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Guardian, LitHub, and Oprah Daily.

Birnam Wood is on the move . . . A landslide has closed the Korowai Pass on New Zealand’s South Island, cutting off the town of Thorndike and leaving a sizable farm abandoned. The disaster has created an opportunity for Birnam Wood, an unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic guerrilla gardening collective that plants crops wherever no one will notice.

For years, the group has struggled to break even. Then Mira, Birnam Wood’s founder, stumbles on an answer: occupying the farm at Thorndike would mean a shot at solvency at last. But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. The enigmatic American billionaire Robert Lemoine has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker, or so he tells Mira when he catches her on the property. Intrigued by Mira and Birnam Wood, he makes them an offer that would set them up for the long term. But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust one another?

Birnam Wood is Shakespearean in its drama, Austenian in its wit, and, like both influences, fascinated by what makes us who we are. A brilliantly constructed consideration of intentions, actions, and consequences, it is a mesmerizing, unflinching consideration of the human impulse to ensure our own survival.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Eleanor Catton is the author of the international bestseller The Luminaries, winner of the Man Booker Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. Her debut novel, The Rehearsal, won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the Betty Trask Award, and the NZ Society of Authors’ Best First Book Award, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. As a screenwriter, she adapted The Luminaries for television, and Jane Austen’s Emma for feature film. Born in London, Ontario, and raised in New Zealand, she now lives in Cambridge, England.

Editorial Reviews

Birnam Wood is terrific. As a multilayered, character-driven thriller, it’s as good as it gets. Ruth Rendell would have loved it. A beautifully textured work—what a treat.”
—Stephen King

Birnam Wood is a tightening noose of cause and consequence, and a lucid environmental novel that investigates the uncomfortable spaces where protest melds into branding, and collectivist idealism crashes up against bare-knuckled capitalism. Who knew climate fiction could be this fun?"
—Michael Christie, author of Greenwood

“Mysterious and marvellously unpredictable, Birnam Wood had me reading the way I used to as a kid—curiously, desperately, and as if it was the whole world. Eleanor Catton connects to the natural and unnatural ways in which we try to control our environments, our impulses, and one another. A spectacular novel, conjured by a virtuoso.”
—Rivka Galchen, author of Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch

“A filmic and page-turning thriller. Hubris and ambition, vanity and greed, principle and expediency, courage and hope—all are here, but not necessarily where you expect to find them.”
—Carys Davies, author of The Mission House

“If George Eliot had written a thriller, it might have been a bit like this.”
—Francis Spufford, author of Light Perpetual

Birnam Wood is electric: a spectacular book. It has the pace and bite of a thriller. It has an iron-willed morality. It feels like the product of astonishing skill, and formidable love. It’s literally, physically breathtaking.”
—Katherine Rundell, author of Super-Infinite

“As saturated with moral scrutiny and propulsive plotting as 19th-century greats; it’s a twisty thriller via Charles Dickens, only with drones. But where Dickens, say, revels in exposing moral bankruptcy, Catton is more interested in the ways everyone is cloudy-eyed with their own hubris in different ways. The result is a story that’s suspended on a tightrope just above nihilism, and readers will hold their breath until the last page to see whether Catton will fall. This blistering look at the horrors of late capitalism manages to also be a wildly fun read.”
Kirkus Review (STARRED REVIEW)

"Catton pulls a taut, suspenseful story from the tangle of vivid characters. Thanks to a convincing backdrop of ecological peril, Catton’s human drama is made even more acute."
Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

“Features vivid characters . . . and sharp, sizzling dialogue. . . .Birnam Wood is tightly wound and psychologically thrilling, and Catton’s fans and readers new to her powers will savor it to the end.”
Booklist (STARRED REVIEW)

Other titles by Eleanor Catton