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Eleanor Catton talks to Toby Lichtig

Birnam Wood

Hay Festival 2023, 

A landslide has closed the Korowai Pass in New Zealand’s South Island, leaving a sizable farm abandoned. This land offers an opportunity to ‘Birnam Wood’, a guerrilla gardening collective who plant crops where no one will notice. But they hadn’t figured on the enigmatic American billionaire, Robert Lemoine, also having an interest in the place. Can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?

The first novel in a decade from the Booker Prize-winning author, Birnam Wood is a brilliantly constructed tale of intentions, actions, and consequences, a skewering of political certainties, and an unflinching examination of the human impulse for survival. Ultimately, the reader is left to wonder: who will survive, and what will be left of them?

Eleanor Catton is the author of The Luminaries, winner of the Man Booker Prize and a global bestseller. She talks to The TLS fiction and politics editor Toby Lichtig.

Eleanor Catton talks to Toby Lichtig