Birnam Wood (Paperback)Eleanor Catton (author)
From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Luminaries comes a dazzling psychological thriller about a guerrilla gardening group and their compromised existence working the land of an abandoned farm, rich in profound characterisation and prescient, thought-provoking themes.
Waterstones Fiction Book of the Month for February 2024
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, the 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, Birnam Wood is Shakespearean in its wit, drama and immersion in character. A brilliantly constructed consideration of intentions, actions, and consequences, it is an unflinching examination of the human impulse to ensure our own survival.
Publisher: Granta Books
Number of pages: 432
Weight: 295 g
Dimensions: 200 x 125 x 26 mm
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
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I was delighted to see that Eleanor Catton had written a new novel as I had thoroughly enjoyed her 2013 Booker winning The Luminaries. I visited New Zealand in 2018 and had appreciated seeing the locations of that... More
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