Virtual Event: Eleanor Catton with Justin Torres — 'Birnam Wood: A Novel'

“Mysterious and marvelously unpredictable, Birnam Wood had me reading the way I used to as a kid―curiously, desperately, and as if it was the whole world. . . A spectacular novel, conjured by a virtuoso.” ―Rivka Galchen


Third Place Books, Book Passage, Book Soup, and Powell's Books are thrilled to welcome Eleanor Catton—author of the Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries—for a presentation of her latest mesmerizing book, Birnam Wood. She will be joined in conversation by acclaimed author Justin Torres.

This event will be hosted via Book Passage's Youtube Live channel. The link will become available here the day of the event. No registration is required in advance.

This author talk is free! You can sustain our author series by purchasing a copy of the featured book.

 

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About Birnam Wood. . .

The Booker Prize–winning author of The Luminaries brings us Birnam Wood, a gripping thriller of high drama and kaleidoscopic insight into what drives us to survive.

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, an 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, Eleanor Catton’s Birnam Wood is Shakespearean in its drama, Austenian in its wit, and, like both influences, fascinated by what makes us who we are. A brilliantly constructed study of intentions, actions, and consequences, it is a mesmerizing, unflinching consideration of the human impulse to ensure our own survival.

 

Praise for Birnam Wood. . .

“As saturated with moral scrutiny and propulsive plotting as 19th-century greats; it’s a twisty thriller via Charles Dickens, only with drones . . . Readers will hold their breath until the last page . . . This blistering look at the horrors of late capitalism manages to also be a wildly fun read.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“At once satirical and serious, [Birnam Wood is] vintage Catton: blazingly original, intricately plotted, and as thought-provoking as it is gripping.”
Madeleine Feeny, The Bookseller

“Sharp, sizzling . . . Birnam Wood is tightly wound and psychologically thrilling, and Catton’s fans and readers new to her powers will savor it to the end.”
Booklist, starred review

“A tragic eco-thriller of betrayed ideals and compromised loyalties . . . [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

“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, author of The Miniaturist

“If George Eliot had written a thriller, it might have been a bit like this.”
Francis Spufford, author of Light Perpetual


Eleanor Catton is the author of international bestseller The Luminaries, winner of the Man Booker Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. Her debut novel, The Rehearsal, won the Betty Trask Prize, 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 Canada and raised in New Zealand, she now lives in Cambridge, England. (Photo credit: Murdo Macleod)

Justin Torres has published short fiction in The New YorkerHarper's, Granta, Tin House, The Washington Post, Glimmer Train, Flaunt, and other publications, as well as non-fiction pieces in publications like The Guardian and The Advocate. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Justin's novel We the Animals has been translated into fifteen languages and was recently adapted into a film. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for five Independent Spirit Awards. He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and a Cullman Center Fellow at the New York Public Library. The National Book Foundation named him one of the 2012's 5 under 35. He was the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, a Rolón Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is an Assistant Professor of English at UCLA. (Photo credit: Winni Wintermeyer)


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