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Birnam Wood

Eleanor Catton



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14 May 2024

Birnam Wood is on the move...

A landslide has closed the Korowai Pass in New Zealand's South Island, cutting off the town of Thorndike, leaving a sizable farm abandoned. The disaster presents an opportunity for Birnam Wood, a guerrilla gardening collective that plants crops wherever no one will notice. But they hadn't figured on the enigmatic American billionaire Robert Lemoine, who also has an interest in the place. Can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?

A propulsive literary thriller from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Luminaries, Birnam Wood is Shakespearean in its wit, drama and immersion in character. It is a brilliantly constructed tale of intentions, actions and consequences, and an unflinching examination of the human impulse to ensure our own survival.
Imprint:   Granta
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 200mm,  Width: 125mm,  Spine: 26mm
Weight:   295g
ISBN:   9781783784288
ISBN 10:   1783784288
Pages:   432
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

ELEANOR CATTON is the author of The Luminaries (Granta, 2013), winner of the Man Booker Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award and an international bestseller. Her debut novel, The Rehearsal (Granta, 2009), won a Betty Trask 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 1985 in Canada and raised in New Zealand, she now lives in Cambridge, England.

Reviews for Birnam Wood

"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 Phenomenal and utterly gripping, Birnam Wood has the sense of a literary writer setting herself free and having a bit of fun. It's fantastic. I loved it. -- Jessie Burton 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 I read this in two deep gulps - it's delicious, it had me re-reading passages aloud. Catton's storytelling is deft and irresistible in this merciless whirlpool of a book, which pulls you inexorably towards its final tragedy -- Kiran Millwood Hargrave 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 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 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 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. 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 A writer of enormous skill, dexterity, charm and thoughtfulness. Birnam Wood accomplishes something rare and important; in making the rampage of growth capitalism feel as high stakes it is, and in making the very next moment, the very next page, feel consequential. -- Caoilinn Hughes A wildly exciting contemporary thriller... You really do read the last 150 pages of Birnam Wood with your pulse racing and your heart thumping * Daily Telegraph * Enormously readable... Hugely entertaining... [Catton] can write funny social satire; she can stage a convincingly self-defeating fight among leftist radicals; she can notice ""the hash of oily streaks and fingerprints"" on a locked phone screen -- Kevin Power * Guardian * Part eco-thriller, part satire and it's gripping, thought-provoking and full of surprises. A brilliant pageturner from a dazzling writer * Mail on Sunday * Catton is a generous writer... Her instinct is to give the reader more for their money - more plot, more context, more suspense, more social commentary, more character. Birnam Wood is a novel that contains multitudes * Sunday Times * A fittingly explosive story, mysterious and gripping from start to finish... This is a deeply enjoyable, action-packed book * Financial Times * Thrilling... A mischievous satire... The book's title invites comparisons with Macbeth and, sure enough, it spirals into a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. * The Times * A smart, satirical novel... Glorious... Birnam Wood is a dark and brilliant novel about the violence and tawdriness of late capitalism. Its ending, though, propels it from a merely very good book into a truly great one * Observer * Birnam Wood is wrapped in the trappings of a thriller. There are betrayals, deaths, plots, crimes, lust, lies and all the rest. But it is done gracefully. Catton has taken her time, and it shows * Spectator * A biting, satirical thriller... If you want a thoughtful novel to chew on, Birnam Wood will satisfy you * Independent * Birnam Wood is literary fiction with the propulsive pace of a thriller, a masterful display of omniscient storytelling, a cautionary tale of friendship soured, a shrewd take on the environmental activism and the global existentialist threat, and undoubtedly one of the books of the year * Irish Times * This is a cracking read... Catton is a writer with a clear moral purpose: happy to entertain but even happier when throwing a well-written, well-aimed punch * Irish Independent * Cleverly done * Daily Mail * Catton's best book yet... I was gripped, shocked and satisfied by the finale... The overwhelming takeaway is the sense of having had an enormous amount of fun... I enjoy a good thriller, and this is an excellent one * TLS * All killer no filler. Grappling elegantly with identity politics and the culture wars as it goes, it flies along most enjoyably without a dull moment * Big Issue * A thoughtful, personality-rich page-turner * Vanity Fair * Dazzling * I Paper * A deserving early entrant for book of the year * Daily Mirror * Birnam Wood is a rare accomplishment: an intelligent and elegant thriller that is also a damn fine read * Economist * Birnam Wood is a firecracker of a book, bursting with provocative ideas and crackling dialogue... * International Express * A fun, thrilling tale about a guerrilla gardening collective, featuring evil tech bros, apocalypse bunkers, and some LSD to top it all off * Sunday Times * With realistic characters and a pacey plot, Birnam Wood is a page-turning literary thriller. It gleefully makes its characters question their core beliefs, with a hefty side order of sarcasm and satire to ensure the mood remains just the right side of nihilistic * Sunday Business Post * Exceptionally good... This brilliantly assembled stand-off has something of the Jonathan Franzen about it...or even Tom Wolfe, in its leisurely command of powerful big shots vs unpredictable small fry * Strong Words * A brilliant tale of intentions, actions and consequences drawn out in a stunning setting, it's an unflinching examination of how far we will go to ensure our own survival * Firecall * [An] enjoyable, cleverly paced literary thriller... [Catton is] able to build her characters superbly, giving them complex inner lives and, it turns out, morals and motives that come in fifty shades of grey rather than simply black and white * Collagerie *"

  • Long-listed for Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction 2024 (New Zealand)

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