The Overstory: A Novel (Paperback)
April 2018 Indie Next List
“The Overstory, which contains an energy like that of the trees that link its intertwining stories, is nothing short of stunning. Such links between the human and non-human are mostly hidden to us, but only because we tend not to look very closely (or prefer not to see). Powers' most beautiful sentences are also the most devastating, which hints at the novel's hope that death - whether of a person or a plant - is never quite the end that it seems. Until, that is, we look, or prefer, finally, to see. As we are instructed near the novel's end, 'What you make from a tree should be at least as miraculous as what you cut down.' Plainly put: The Overstory is perhaps as close to such a miracle as we currently deserve.”
— Brad Johnson, East Bay Booksellers, Oakland, CA
Summer 2019 Reading Group Indie Next List
“I can’t stop thinking about this book! A sprawling, literary eco-epic, The Overstory is the kind of novel that changes people. It’s a riveting call to arms and a bitter indictment of our wasteful culture. More than that, it’s an incredibly human story with a huge cast of richly imagined characters that you’ll never forget. With writing that is dense but accessible, Powers is a master at intersecting science, art, and spirituality without sacrificing plot. I pity the next customer who comes into our store looking for ‘a book about trees’ because Powers has given me a lot to talk about.”
— Logan Farmer, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO
This novel begins with stories of people living out their lives, full of joys and tragedies and dramas, and each affected in some way by a tree (yes, a tree). As the lives of its characters begin to intertwine in unexpected ways, The Overstory spirals outward in scope until it becomes about the trees themselves, their long lifetimes overarching the human ones. Humanity would be only a blip in the tree world if not for the devastating effects of modern attitudes towards nature, something that each of the characters must grapple with in some way. I loved the complexity and urgency of this novel as an exploration of how individual human lives fit into the larger natural world (if only we thought of ourselves this way), and how we all are responsible for what’s being done to it. And no small thing, The Overstory contains some of the most beautiful sentences that I’ve read in awhile. Best read arborside, of course.
— From Kelsey's Picks
"It's about trees," Obama said. "I like trees," I thought. "And I like Obama." That was my starting point. Then I read it. I had no idea the wonderful complexity I was jumping into. I'm not afraid to say that this was so much more than I asked for. And I am changed forever for it.
Great books plant themselves in you; let you grow with them and leave their imprint on you. The greatest books continue growing when you've stopped turning their pages. The Overstory keeps growing. Each section of the book is a strikingly different evolution frm the last, however essential to one another. Unrelated-seeming short stories - humans influenced by trees surrounding them - quickly grow together in the eyes of new perspective - a painfully semi-satisfying world-reframing trick. Powers has made something of mastery - it is not an easy read, but an important one
Now, with forests on fire, trees chopped down for housing complexes, and us burning ourselves and the world around us pseudo-consciously, we need this reframing. It's what great books do.
-Atticus— From Atticus
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction
Winner of the William Dean Howells Medal
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
Over One Year on the New York Times Bestseller List
A New York Times Notable Book and a Washington Post, Time, Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
"The best novel ever written about trees, and really just one of the best novels, period." —Ann Patchett
The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work 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, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel 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. 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.
— Barack Obama
The best book I’ve read in 10 years. It’s a remarkable piece of literature, and the moment it speaks to is climate change. So, for me, it’s a lodestone. It’s a mind-opening fiction, and it connects us all in a very positive way to the things that we have to do if we want to regain our planet.
— Emma Thompson
An ingeniously structured narrative that branches and canopies like the trees at the core of the story whose wonder and connectivity echo those of the humans living amongst them.
— citation from the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction
This book is beyond special.… It’s a kind of breakthrough in the ways we think about and understand the world around us, at a moment when that is desperately needed.
— Bill McKibben
A towering achievement by a major writer.
— Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland
Monumental… The Overstory accomplishes what few living writers from either camp, art or science, could attempt. Using the tools of the story, he pulls readers heart-first into a perspective so much longer-lived and more subtly developed than the human purview that we gain glimpses of a vast, primordial sensibility, while watching our own kind get whittled down to size.… A gigantic fable of genuine truths.
— Barbara Kingsolver - The New York Times Book Review
The best novels change the way you see. Richard Powers’s The Overstory does this. Haunting.
— Geraldine Brooks
This ambitious novel soars up through the canopy of American literature and remakes the landscape of environmental fiction.… Remarkable.
— Ron Charles - The Washington Post
The best novel ever written about trees, and really, just one of the best novels, period.
— Ann Patchett
Should be mandatory reading the world over.
— Emilia Clarke