Richard Powers: The Overstory

The latest addition to my website is Richard PowersThe Overstory. This is another first-class, long and complex novel from Powers. Its subject is trees, particularly the idea that trees are, to some degree, sentient, rational beings and the fact that trees are being chopped down in unprecedented numbers in the United States and elsewhere, to the detriment of human beings and, indeed, pretty well all other land-based species. We follow the stories of eight individuals/families and how they are affected by trees or, in some cases, by an individual tree and how they come to realise the importance of trees and the fact that they need protecting. In particular, some of these characters come together and commit both legal and illegal acts to prevent trees from being logged. Inevitably, they face the power of the state when they commit illegal acts. Powers give us a wonderfully complex novel, a series of superbly written interlocked stories and lots to think about. Indeed, you will think differently about trees after you read this book, which I urge you to do.

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