Birnam Wood

Item Information
Item#: 9780771024375
Edition 01
Author Catton, Eleanor
On Hand 1

Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, the Kirkus Prize, Orwell Prize, and the Ockham Book Award for Fiction
Longlisted for the 2024 Dublin Literary Award
CBC Books' #1 Canadian Novel of 2023
Named a Best Book of 2023 by the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Time, Kirkus Reviews, The Guardian, the Globe and Mail, and many more
One of Barack Obama's 2023 Summer Reading List titles

From the Booker Prize–winning author of The Luminaries comes an electrifying thriller about ambition, greed, environmental collapse, and how even our best intentions can lead to deadly consequences.

Birnam Wood is on the move . . . A landslide has closed the Korowai Pass on New Zealand’s South Island, cutting off the town of Thorndike and leaving a sizable farm abandoned. The disaster has created an opportunity for Birnam Wood, a guerrilla gardening collective that plants crops wherever no one will notice.

For Mira, Birnam Wood’s founder, occupying the farm at Thorndike would mean a shot at solvency at last. But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. The enigmatic American billionaire Robert Lemoine 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 and Birnam Wood, he makes them an offer that would set them up for the long term. But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust one another?

Birnam Wood is Shakespearean in its drama, Austenian in its wit, and, like both influences, fascinated by what makes us who we are. It is an unflinching look at the surprising consequences of even our most well-intended actions, and an enthralling consideration of the human impulse to ensure our own survival.

Review Quotes
Shortlisted for the 2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the 2023 Kirkus Prize, the 2024 Libby Book Award for Best Adult Fiction and the 2024 Carol Shields Prize for Fiction
Longlisted for the 2024 Dublin Literary Award
CBC Books' #1 Canadian Novel of 2023
Named a Best Book of 2023 by the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Time, Kirkus Reviews, The Guardian, Financial Times, the Globe and Mail, The Atlantic, NPR, CBC Books, the Washington Post, Slate, The Telegraph, the Boston Globe, People, Amazon, Indigo, and Apple iBooks Canada
One of Barack Obama's 2023 Summer Reading List titles

“Eleanor Catton’s Birnam Wood is a rare gem, a novel that is a page-turning thriller and a weighty exploration of climate catastrophe and capitalism. Catton weaves a tale of unlikely allies: an idealistic crew of guerrilla gardeners and an inscrutable doomsteading billionaire. This is a satire about political and generational divides that pokes gentle fun at the characters’ foibles, exposing the hypocrisy on all sides. Catton has her finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist and the novel is aptly riven with anxiety. Online surveillance, income inequality, natural disasters, ecological collapse—whatever keeps you up at night, it’s all here. But at its heart, this is a book about friendship and all the ways we try and fail, and try again, to care for each other. With Birnam Wood, Eleanor Catton has penned an instant classic.”
—Giller Prize jury citation

“Shakespearean in its ambition, with a large cast of characters, Birnam Wood manages to be both a nuanced psychological novel and a cultural satire of New Zealand’s contemporary contradictions, tackling climate change, environmental activism (the book’s title—from Macbeth, of course—is the name of a ‘guerrilla gardening collective’), and the fatal inequities of late capitalism. Eleanor Catton is a superlative prose stylist: her sentences exhilarate and delight. Witty, often scathing, and painfully emotionally accurate, this brilliant novel surprises to the last.”
—Carol Shields Prize for Fiction jury citation  

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

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.”
The Guardian
“Catton deftly constructs a political and environmental universe that has broadly capitulated to corruption, where individuals absentmindedly microdose poison each day until they are doomed.”
 “[A] wildly exciting contemporary thriller….mischievously comic….you really do read the last one hundred and fifty pages of Birnam Wood with your pulse racing and your heart thumping.”
The Telegraph (starred review)
“Catton’s gift for interiority is mind-bending. There were many times reading the novel that I felt, with a mix of wonder and pure squirm, that my very outline was being traced with Catton’s subtle knife….Catton’s prose brings to mind Austen and Woolf and Mantel. She is among that echelon of literary mastery. Her sentences are the stuff of dreams: of ten-course degustations that give you the satisfaction of home cooking at its finest. In Catton’s hands the descent into character is so complete, so startlingly multi-dimensional, that the ride cannot help but be exhilarating and entirely consuming.”
The Spinoff
“It’s [Catton’s] exploration and insight into the psyches of the characters that really cements [Birnam Wood] as a great book—a ripping, character-driven, ideas-laden yarn.”
“This is a deeply enjoyable, action-packed book, an accomplished new offering in the expanding literary sub-genre of ‘cli-fi’….it’s the mark of Catton’s exceptional storytelling that she won’t let us work out which side Birnam Wood will fall—until the very end.”
Financial Times
“[A] subtle, sometimes acerbically comic and ultimately tragic novel of great sensitivity….Catton has taken her time, and it shows.”
Spectator Australia
“Catton has substantial things to say and an observational heft that places this novel among the best of climate fiction. But it’s also a total, bloody romp.”
The Monthly

Birnam Wood is a tightening noose of cause and consequence, and a lucid environmental novel that investigates the uncomfortable spaces where protest melds into branding, and collectivist idealism crashes up against bare-knuckled capitalism. Who knew climate fiction could be this fun?" 
—Michael Christie, author of Greenwood
“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. Eleanor 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
“A filmic and page-turning thriller. 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
“If George Eliot had written a thriller, it might have been a bit like this.” 
—Francis Spufford, author of Light Perpetual

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

“As saturated with moral scrutiny and propulsive plotting as 19th-century greats; it’s a twisty thriller via Charles Dickens, only with drones. But where Dickens, say, revels in exposing moral bankruptcy, Catton is more interested in the ways everyone is cloudy-eyed with their own hubris in different ways. The result is a story that’s suspended on a tightrope just above nihilism, and readers will hold their breath until the last page to see whether Catton will fall. This blistering look at the horrors of late capitalism manages to also be a wildly fun read.”
Kirkus Review (STARRED REVIEW)

"Catton pulls a taut, suspenseful story from the tangle of vivid characters. Thanks to a convincing backdrop of ecological peril, Catton’s human drama is made even more acute."
Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)
“Features vivid characters . . . and sharp, sizzling dialogue. . . .Birnam Wood is tightly wound and psychologically thrilling, and Catton’s fans and readers new to her powers will savor it to the end.”