Richard Powers brings the forests to life in this gorgeous, elaborately metaphorical, philosophical and engrossing saga. I consider myself to be fairly well educated about environmental issues and the natural world, yet after The Overstory, I will never be able to see my furniture, and the pages the book is printed on in the same way. I love books like this that take on unusual subjects in unusual ways; that are dense with intricate layers of meaning that add to, rather than detract from a good story. But what makes The Overstory so truly rare and beautiful is the way it frames a different perspective for the reader, not only of the trees, but of people ourselves, and our place in the world.
This epic saga is Richard Power’s twelfth novel and has been short-listed for the 2018 Man Booker Prize. It is composed of 4 stages, representing the parts of a tree. First are the roots, setting the stage by introducing the nine characters. They all have unique stories lying beneath the surface. The next stage is the trunk, where the lives of the characters begin to intersect. Part three is the crown, which looks at how the actions of this group have a rippling effect and the final section is seeds, offering a glimmer of hope that our society can learn from the resourceful nature of trees.— Sandra, Seattle
“The Overstory, which contains an energy like that of the trees that link its intertwining stories, is nothing short of stunning. Such links between the human and non-human are mostly hidden to us, but only because we tend not to look very closely (or prefer not to see). Powers' most beautiful sentences are also the most devastating, which hints at the novel's hope that death - whether of a person or a plant - is never quite the end that it seems. Until, that is, we look, or prefer, finally, to see. As we are instructed near the novel's end, 'What you make from a tree should be at least as miraculous as what you cut down.' Plainly put: The Overstory is perhaps as close to such a miracle as we currently deserve.”
— Brad Johnson, East Bay Booksellers, Oakland, CA
“I can’t stop thinking about this book! A sprawling, literary eco-epic, The Overstory is the kind of novel that changes people. It’s a riveting call to arms and a bitter indictment of our wasteful culture. More than that, it’s an incredibly human story with a huge cast of richly imagined characters that you’ll never forget. With writing that is dense but accessible, Powers is a master at intersecting science, art, and spirituality without sacrificing plot. I pity the next customer who comes into our store looking for ‘a book about trees’ because Powers has given me a lot to talk about.”
— Logan Farmer, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
New York Times Bestseller
A New York Times Notable Book and a Washington Post, Time, Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018
"The best novel ever written about trees, and really just one of the best novels, period."—Ann Patchett
An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers—each summoned in different ways by trees—are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.
In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.
The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity’s self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us? "Listen. There’s something you need to hear."