Greenwood: A Novel

Category: Book
By (author): Christie, Michael
Subject:  FICTION / Canadian
  FICTION / Family Life
  FICTION / Historical
  FICTION / Sagas
Awards: Scotiabank Giller Prize (2019) Long-listed
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Published: August 2020
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 512
Size: 7.98in x 5.22in x 1.32in
Our Price:
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Additional Notes


From the award-winning author of If I Fall, If I Die comes a propulsive, multigenerational family story, in which the unexpected legacies of a remote island off the coast of British Columbia will link the fates of five people over a hundred years. Cloud Atlas meets The Overstory in this ingenious nested-ring epic set against the devastation of the natural world.

They come for the trees. It's 2038 and Jacinda (Jake) Greenwood is a storyteller and a liar, an overqualified tour guide babysitting ultra-rich-eco-tourists in one of the world's last remaining forests. It's 2008 and Liam Greenwood is a carpenter, sprawled on his back after a workplace fall and facing the possibility of his own death. It's 1974 and Willow Greenwood is just out of jail for one of her environmental protests: attempts at atonement for the sins of her father's once vast and rapacious timber empire. It's 1934 and Everett Greenwood is a Depression-era drifter who saves an abandoned infant, only to find himself tangled up in the web of a crime, secrets, and betrayal that will cling to his family for decades. And throughout, there are trees: a steady, silent pulse thrumming beneath Christie's effortless sentences, working as a guiding metaphor for withering, weathering, and survival.

Transporting, beautifully written, and brilliantly structured like the nested growth rings of a tree, Greenwood reveals the knot of lies, omissions, and half-truths that exists at the root of every family's origin story. It is a magnificent novel of greed, sacrifice, love, and the ties that bind--and the hopeful, impossible task of growing toward the light.
Review Quote*"Superb. . . . There are plenty of visionary moments laced into his shape-shifting narrative. . . . Greenwood penetrates to the core of things." -New York Times Book Review

"A deeply compelling novel of family and memory. . . . Greenwood is a towering, profound novel about the things that endure even as the world seems to be moving on." -BookPage

"A remarkable achievement." -Carol Off, As It Happens

"Christie skillfully teases out the details in a page-turner of a saga that complements sylvan books such as Sometimes a Great Nation and The Overstory. . . . Beguilingly structured, elegantly written: eco-apocalyptic but with hope that somehow we'll make it." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A dystopian, historical, speculative, multigenerational family saga, this marvellous, generous book is best enjoyed in a forest." -Sharon Bala, author of The Boat People

"[An] eerily real-feeling future." -Globe and Mail

"Rich with evocative descriptions of West Coast wilderness and anchored by a deep visceral bond to the trees that sustain us all, Greenwood is a literary page-turner that manages to be both nostalgic and modern, personal and political, intimately human and big-picture historical. In an era of so much uncertainty, it is comforting to see novelists begin to work through the biggest issue of our age. And, in this case, convert our collective suffering into brilliant, beauty-filled art." -Toronto Star

"[S]tructured like the growth rings of a tree, spanning generation. . . . [Greenwood] looks at families, love and secrets against the backdrop of the 'magic' of trees." -CBC News

"Greenwood is a sprawling and ambitious novel of industrial greed, climate catastrophe, familial bonds and a little bit of hope."-Keith Cadieux, Winnipeg Free Press

"Whatever 2038 is really like when it arrives, Canadians and others will still be reading Greenwood for its high energy, its memorable characters, and its anguished love for the forests."-Crawford Kilian, The Tyee

"Greenwood is brilliant. Michael Christie shows a cross section of one family's history, revealing their dark secrets, loves, losses, and the mark of an accident still visible four generations later. Year by year, page by page, the layers of this intricate and elegant novel build into an epic story that is completely absorbing. I had to cancel everything for this book because I couldn't stop reading." -Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal 

"This book is why we read books. Why we need books. Wildly inventive, structurally elegant, deeply felt, and so very wise. Greenwood is Michael Christie's best work ever, and that's saying something." -Alexander MacLeod, author of Light Lifting

"Ingeniously structured and with prose as smooth as beech bark, Michael Christie's Greenwood is as compulsive as it is profound. A sweeping intergenerational saga that explores trees and their roots, from the precious evergreens that become commodities in the entertainment business of the future, to the intricately tangled trees of family-all of it is dazzlingly delivered in a framework inspired by the actual growth rings of a tree. Every one of Greenwood's characters burrowed their way into my heart. Beguilingly brilliant, timely, and utterly engrossing, Greenwood is one of my favourite reads in recent memory." -Kira Jane Buxton, author of Hollow Kingdom

"At once hypnotic and raging, dangerously real and brimming with hope, Greenwood is that most necessary epic that binds our human frailties to our planet's possibilities. Michael Christie tenderly rakes the past and paints a future without flinching. I read this book with my heart in my throat, in my hands, in my gut; I read this book heart-full." -Katy Simpson Smith, author of The Story of Land and Sea

"Greenwood is a family story, fractured and often contradictory (as the best family stories usually are). . . . bring[ing] together the intimate and the sweeping, the human world and the natural, the past and the future." -Quill & Quire

"Astonishing. . . . What makes Greenwood an essential climate-change novel is that, rather than obsessing over a single, final apocalypse to come, it attempts something much harder and more ambitious: to transcend altogether the tropes of victim and antagonist. . . . And to instead present humanity and nature as deeply, ultimately, endlessly interconnected. . . . Greenwood offers a rare sentiment in the climate emergency: hope." -Damian Tarnopolsky, The Walrus
Biographical NoteMICHAEL CHRISTIE is the author of the novel If I Fall, If I Die, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Kirkus Prize, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and was selected as a New York Times Editors Choice Pick, and a linked collection of stories, The Beggar's Garden, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and won the City of Vancouver Book Award. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Globe & Mail. A former carpenter and homeless-shelter worker, he divides his time between Victoria and Galiano Island, where he lives with his family in a timber frame house that he built himself.