Birnam Wood: A Novel (Hardcover)
This complex, masterfully paced thriller is set in New Zealand, where a group of young adults secretly grow food on other people’s land. An American billionaire's arrival wreaks wide-ranging havoc on land and lives alike. Tension builds from the first chapter thanks to rich inner monologues of key characters.— Kay Wosewick
INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER & NATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER
“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
“A generational cri de coeur . . . A sophisticated page-turner . . . Birnam Wood nearly made me laugh with pleasure. The whole thing crackles . . . Greta Gerwig could film this novel, but so could Quentin Tarantino.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
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 . . .
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 presents an opportunity for Birnam Wood, an undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic guerrilla gardening collective that plants crops wherever no one will notice. For years, the group has struggled to break even. To occupy the farm at Thorndike would mean a shot at solvency at last.
But the enigmatic American billionaire Robert Lemoine also has an interest in the place: he has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker, or so he tells Birnam’s founder, Mira, when he catches her on the property. He’s intrigued by Mira, and by Birnam Wood; although they’re poles apart politically, it seems Lemoine and the group might have enemies in common. But can Birnam trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust one another?
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.
About the Author
Eleanor Catton is the author of the international bestseller The Luminaries, winner of the Man Booker Prize and a Governor General’s Literary Award. Her debut novel, The Rehearsal, won the Betty Trask Award, was short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize, and was long-listed for the Orange Prize. She is also the screenwriter of Emma, a 2020 feature ﬁlm adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel. Born in Canada and raised in New Zealand, she now lives in Cambridge, England.
A Must Read at The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, People, Vogue, Elle, Oprah Daily, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Bloomberg, The Financial Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, USA Today, BBC, The Guardian, The Times (London), Literary Hub, and more
“One of 2023’s most sophisticated, stylish and searching literary works, a full-on triumph from a generational talent.”
—Hamilton Cain, The Star Tribune
“Whooshingly enjoyable . . . A witty literary thriller about the collision between eco-idealism and staggering wealth.”
—John Powers, NPR’s Fresh Air
“A grand, chilling thriller . . . [Birnam Wood] grips you by the throat.”
—Lauren LeBlanc, The Boston Globe
“Savagely satirical . . . Funny, provocative, and heartbreaking.”
“Gorgeous . . . [Catton is] a generational talent.”
“A sleek contemporary thriller . . . [Birnam Wood] dramatizes political, technical and environmental crises with such delicious wit.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“An eco-thriller of grand psychological and social ambitions.”
—Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times
“A rare accomplishment: an intelligent and elegant thriller that is also a damn fine read.”
“Like a Sally Rooney thriller set in New Zealand, with an Elon Musk-esque bad guy as one of the protagonists.”
—Sam Sifton, The New York Times
“Complex and often shocking . . . Birnam Wood’s biggest twist is not so much a particular event as the realization that this is a book in which everything that people choose to do matters, albeit not in ways they may have anticipated. Catton has a profound command of how perceptions lead to choice, and of how choice, for most of us, is an act of self-definition.”
—B.D. McClay, The New Yorker
“[A] virtuoso performance: elaborately plotted, richly conceived, enormously readable.”
—Kevin Power, The Guardian
“[A] page-turning thriller-slash-sneaky dystopian satire.”
—Patrick Rapa, The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Twisty and surprising, and Franzen-like in its rich character development and clear-eyed descriptions of social issues.”
—Samantha Schoech, San Francisco Chronicle
“[Birnam Wood] will have you gnawing your knuckles.”
—Lisa Allardice, The Guardian
“[A] brilliant, clever book.”
—Lauren Puckett-Pope, Elle
—Barbara VanDenburgh, USA Today
“Birnam Wood is a multi-layered book . . . Catton is not just a master at spinning a web of competing philosophies, though; her characters are deeply flawed but you can’t help but root for them.”
—Chloe Schama, Vogue
“A propulsive thriller . . . Buoyant, seemingly effortless.”
—James Tarny, Bloomberg
“A captivating novel of ideas that is also a finely crafted suspense novel . . . [Birnam Wood] will at turns shock, delight, and provoke.”
—Ryan Asmussen, Chicago Review of Books
“A thoughtful, personality-rich page-turner.”