Birnam Wood: A Novel (Hardcover)
“One of the finest writers of our time.” —Jonathan Ruppin, The Independent
The Booker Prize–winning author of The Luminaries brings us Birnam Wood, a gripping thriller of high drama and kaleidoscopic insight into what drives us to survive.
Birnam Wood is on the move . . .
Five years ago, Mira Bunting founded a guerrilla gardening group: Birnam Wood. An undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic gathering of friends, this activist collective plants crops wherever no one will notice: on the sides of roads, in forgotten parks and neglected backyards. For years, the group has struggled to break even. Then Mira stumbles on an answer, a way to finally set the group up for the long term: a landslide has closed the Korowai Pass, cutting off the town of Thorndike. Natural disaster has created an opportunity, a sizable farm seemingly abandoned.
But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. Robert Lemoine, an enigmatic American billionaire, 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, Birnam Wood, and their entrepreneurial spirit, he suggests they work this land. But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?
A gripping psychological thriller from the Booker Prize–winning author of The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton’s 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 study of intentions, actions, and consequences, it is a mesmerizing, unflinching consideration of the human impulse to ensure our own survival.
“Mysterious and marvelously unpredictable, Birnam Wood had me reading the way I used to as a kid—curiously, desperately and as if it was the whole world. 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
“What I admired most in Birnam Wood was the way that the rapid violence of the climax rises, all of it, out of the deep, patient, infinitely nuanced character work that comes before. If George Eliot had written a thriller, it might have been a bit like this.”
—Francis Spufford, author of Light Perpetual
“A filmic and page-turning thriller—Eleanor Catton weaves a complex and absorbing web of human relationships in which the balance of power is constantly and unpredictably shifting. 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
“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
“I read this in two deep gulps—it’s delicious; it had me rereading passages aloud. Catton’s storytelling is deft and irresistible in this merciless whirlpool of a book, which pulls you inexorably toward its final tragedy.”
—Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Dance Tree
“This is an urgent, compelling read, bleak but deeply moving and humanly credible. Eleanor Catton offers an unsparing analysis of the various deadly self-delusions and corruptions that are generated by our global denial of the planet’s crisis—but also by our naive, confused yearnings to be numbered among the righteous. It is a book of real moral depth.”
—Rowan Williams, author of Looking East in Winter