in conversation with Justin Torres
An Online Event
in partnership with Third Place Books, Powell's, Vroman's, Book Soup, and Rakestraw
Sun., March 12th • 2:00pm PT
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 . . .
Five years ago, Mira Bunting founded a guerrilla gardening group: Birnam Wood. An undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic gathering of friends, this activist collective plants crops wherever no one will notice: on the sides of roads, in forgotten parks and neglected backyards. For years, the group has struggled to break even. Then Mira stumbles on an answer, a way to finally set the group up for the long term: a landslide has closed the Korowai Pass, cutting off the town of Thorndike. Natural disaster has created an opportunity, a sizable farm seemingly abandoned.
But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. Robert Lemoine, an enigmatic American billionaire, has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker—or so he tells Mira when he catches her on the property. Intrigued by Mira, Birnam Wood, and their entrepreneurial spirit, he suggests they work this land. But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?
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.
Eleanor Catton is the author of international bestseller The Luminaries, winner of the Man Booker Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. Her debut novel, The Rehearsal, won the Betty Trask Prize, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. As a screenwriter, she adapted The Luminaries for television, and Jane Austen’s Emma for feature film. Born in Canada and raised in New Zealand, she now lives in Cambridge, England.
Justin Torres has published short fiction in The New Yorker, Harper's, Granta, Tin House, The Washington Post, Glimmer Train, Flaunt, and other publications, as well as non-fiction pieces in publications like The Guardian and The Advocate. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Justin's novel We the Animals has been translated into fifteen languages and was recently adapted into a film. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for five Independent Spirit Awards. He was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and a Cullman Center Fellow at the New York Public Library. The National Book Foundation named him one of the 2012's 5 under 35. He was the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, a Rolón Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is an Assistant Professor of English at UCLA.
Eleanor Catton photo courtesy of Murdo Macleod; Justin Torres photo courtesy of Winni Wintermeyer