The Overstory by Richard Powers – Our Review
Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
First and foremost, this is a book about trees. Powers’ first venture into environmental fiction is an extraordinary achievement, almost biblical in its scope and ambitions.
I found it hard to put down. Some of the language and concepts are so exquisite, they stay with you. The book has flaws, but that’s like saying the face of the moon is flawed.
A multi-narrative structure, its characters are as diverse as a Scandinavian migrant family in Iowa, a botanist, an accountant, a Vietnam veteran, a college drop-out, and a creator of computer games.
Many of the characters are quite blatantly archetypal – enough to suit any pantheon of gods. In doing this, Powers risks losing the reader’s emotional involvement but that didn’t happen for me.
As he drew it all together, social realism, environmental politics, computer worlds, and the many strands and ideas driving the fiction itself, it was fascinating.
And if the emotional manipulation isn’t subtle, well, archetypal stories are the ones that ring the loudest bells, and last. Which is great if there’s anyone left to listen.
As he pleads, through his characters, for us to notice and act, he is ultimately optimistic. For the trees, that is. We are on an irreversible path to extinction. All the trees have to do is hang in there and outlast us.
Review by Andrea @ Great Escape Books