The Overstory

Richard Powers
Penguin, £18.99
by SRB

Books of the Year 2018 – A Literary Advent Calendar

December 18, 2018 | by SRB


We’ve asked Scotland’s leading writers, booksellers, festival directors and critics to pick one, or two, books — published this year or in the past — that they most enjoyed reading in 2018. There will be new selections every day throughout December — so keep reading for great ideas about what to read next and visit your nearest high street bookshop to purchase your Christmas gifts! Today’s selection is from Roland Gulliver.

The Overstory

by Richard Powers

Richard Powers’ shortlisting for this year’s Man Booker Prize was a long overdue recognition of a writer whose work constantly challenges and inspires. His novels are expansive, compulsive and thought-provoking. In his epic The Overstory he reappraises humanity’s relationship with the environment in particular our love and destruction of the planet’s trees; it is novel that echoes and resonates with every news headline and United Nations climate warning. Its roots begin with nine individual short stories amongst them an artist, an environmentalist, a war veteran, and a games programmer. At the centre of each lies the story of a tree, and the opening up of a grander narrative. These nine lives go on to become intertwined, drawn into a battle to save one forest and with it begins a beautiful, heartbreaking, joyous piece of storytelling. To meet Richard Powers at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival, and to hear him read beautifully and talk so eloquently was a highlight of the year.

Roland Gulliver is Associate Director at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Follow him on Twitter @rolandgulliver


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