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The Overstory: A Novel Hardcover – April 3, 2018

4.4 out of 5 stars 3,472 ratings

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of April 2018: Do you love trees? I thought I did, until I read Richard Powers's The Overstory, and I realized that my appreciation of trees was lightweight at best. When one of Powers's characters goes to a small grove outside her office window to determine the tree's species, "She stands with her nose in the bark, perversely intimate. She doses herself for a long time, like a hospice patient self-administering the morphine." Trees are not exactly an addiction to the wide-ranging cast of characters--an engineer, a Vietnam vet, a college student, a videogame designer, and more—but more like a touchstone that offers tradition and destiny at once. Powers, a National Book Award and Pushcart Prize–winning author, is devious in that he first immerses the reader in the lives of his characters before delicately oxygenating his story with the devastation of Dutch elm disease, the enduring strength of the sequoia, and the communication methods trees use to warn of predators and to lure allies. The Overstory might sound a bit woo-woo—and it definitely is that, though in such a way that it inspires passion instead of eye-rolling. This gorgeously written novel will seduce you into looking more closely at not only our fellow human beings but the towering bio-kingdom that is too often merely a backdrop to our days. Perhaps, like me, you will be inspired to walk out into the night to smell the rain sweeping through the nearby evergreen trees. —Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review

Review

“An ingeniously structured narrative that branches and canopies like the trees at the core of the story whose wonder and connectivity echo those of the humans living amongst them.”
- citation from the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

“Autumn makes me think of leaves, which makes me think of trees, which makes me think of The Overstory, the best novel ever written about trees, and really, just one of the best novels, period.”
- Ann Patchett

“Monumental…The Overstory accomplishes what few living writers from either camp, art or science, could attempt. Using the tools of the story, he pulls readers heart-first into a perspective so much longer-lived and more subtly developed than the human purview that we gain glimpses of a vast, primordial sensibility, while watching our own kind get whittled down to size....A gigantic fable of genuine truths.”
- Barbara Kingsolver, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)

“Remarkable....This ambitious novel soars up through the canopy of American literature and remakes the landscape of environmental fiction.”
- Ron Charles, Washington Post

“A big, ambitious epic....Powers juggles the personal dramas of his far-flung cast with vigor and clarity. The human elements of the book―the arcs his characters follow over the decades from crusading passion to muddled regret and a sense of failure―are thoroughly compelling. So are the extra-human elements, thanks to the extraordinary imaginative flights of Powers’s prose, which persuades you on the very first page that you’re hearing the voices of trees as they chide our species.”
- Michael Upchurch, Boston Globe

“A rousing, full-throated hymn to Nature’s grandeur.”
- Dan Cryer, San Francisco Chronicle

“An extraordinary novel....An astonishing performance....There is something exhilarating, too, in reading a novel whose context is wider than human life. The Overstory leaves you with a slightly adjusted frame of reference....What was happening to his characters passed into my conscience, like alcohol into the bloodstream, and left a feeling behind of grief or guilt, even after I put it down.”
- Benjamin Markovits, The Guardian

“Powers is the rare American novelist writing in the grand realist tradition, daring to cast himself, in the critic Peter Brooks’s term, as a 'historian of contemporary society.' He has the courage and intellectual stamina to explore our most complex social questions with originality, nuance, and an innate skepticism about dogma. At a time when literary convention favors novelists who write narrowly about personal experience, Powers’s ambit is refreshingly unfashionable, restoring to the form an authority it has shirked.”
- Nathaniel Rich, The Atlantic

“This book is beyond special. Richard Powers manages to turn trees into vivid and engaging characters, something that indigenous people have done for eons but that modern literature has rarely if ever even attempted. It's not just a completely absorbing, even overwhelming book; it's a kind of breakthrough in the ways we think about and understand the world around us, at a moment when that is desperately needed.”
- Bill McKibben

The Overstory is a visionary, accessible legend for the planet that owns us, its exaltation and its peril, a remarkable achievement by a great writer.”
- Thomas McGuane

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
3,472 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on April 17, 2018
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Top international reviews

Robert Alan Davidson
3.0 out of 5 stars Minority Opinion
Reviewed in Canada on October 4, 2018
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M. Jefferies
5.0 out of 5 stars One for the heart
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 19, 2018
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GREATLYAMUSED
5.0 out of 5 stars Cumulative storytelling.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 7, 2018
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Alysson Oliveira
4.0 out of 5 stars Um épico ecológico
Reviewed in Brazil on August 3, 2018
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MR JULIAN GRANT
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 24, 2019
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Deckerman
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 19, 2020
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KF
3.0 out of 5 stars Pulitzer bows to zeitgeist
Reviewed in Germany on July 6, 2019
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B. Na
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading for Humans
Reviewed in Canada on January 9, 2020
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Mergitur
5.0 out of 5 stars Ecological Thriller
Reviewed in Canada on February 20, 2020
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1.0 out of 5 stars very disappointed
Reviewed in Canada on December 27, 2019
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Wilder
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous writing, beautiful story
Reviewed in Canada on January 16, 2020
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Patricia Seeley
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read.
Reviewed in Canada on December 10, 2019
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Lola-Jean Bridges
5.0 out of 5 stars When's the best time to plant a tree?
Reviewed in Canada on September 8, 2018
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FernandaRV
5.0 out of 5 stars Maravilhoso!
Reviewed in Brazil on September 15, 2019
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5.0 out of 5 stars Justly won
Reviewed in Canada on May 3, 2019
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