The Overstory by Richard Powers
A Novel

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Suspiciously, even. And I found, while reading, that some of what was happening to his characters passed into my conscience, like alcohol into the bloodstream, and left a feeling behind of grief or guilt, even after I put it down. Which is one test of the quality of a novel.
-Guardian

Synopsis

A monumental novel about trees and people by one of our most "prodigiously talented" (The New York Times Book Review) novelists.

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."

 

About Richard Powers

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Richard Powers was born in Evanston, Illinois. The author of eleven novels, he has been a Pulitzer Prize and four-time National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, received a MacArthur “genius grant,” and won the National Book Award.
 
Published April 3, 2018 by W. W. Norton & Company. 502 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Overstory
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

The Maine Edge

Excellent
Reviewed by Allen Adams on Apr 10 2018

This is an exceptional work from one of the greatest novelists of his generation ... ["The Overstory"] lingers in the consciousness long after the last page is turned. The narrative interweaving is as quietly intricate as any root system, with each story both supported and supportive. It is mesmerizing to read and nigh-impossible to put down.

Read Full Review of The Overstory: A Novel

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Benjamin Markovits on Mar 23 2018

Suspiciously, even. And I found, while reading, that some of what was happening to his characters passed into my conscience, like alcohol into the bloodstream, and left a feeling behind of grief or guilt, even after I put it down. Which is one test of the quality of a novel.

Read Full Review of The Overstory: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

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