The Overstory: A Novel - Richard Powers

The Overstory: A Novel

By Richard Powers

  • Release Date: 2018-04-03
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 4.5
From 154 Ratings


New York Times Bestseller
Shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize
A New York Times Notable, Washington Post, Time, Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018

A monumental novel about trees and people by one of our most "prodigiously talented" (The New York Times Book Review) novelists.

An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers—each summoned in different ways by trees—are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.

In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity’s self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us? "Listen. There’s something you need to hear."


  • The Overstory

    By Readyreader123
    This is the best book I’ve ever read! I learned so much about trees and about humans, the ways we are intertwined.
  • Flawed but Wonderful

    By jscann
    This novel asks the question, “Why, when the natural world is obviously on the brink of destruction, are so many doing nothing?” And it asks that question by following a handful of people who decide to save the world and by showing the forces that oppose them in the background. The novel is too long, has several subplots that are silly, and some sequences and passages that are cringeworthy as they fall short of the wisdom for which they aim. But when this novel is on target, it is marvelous. Well worth the time investment.
  • The overstory

    By N.Y. avidreader
    A great and poignant read beautiful writing.
  • The Overstory

    By hawsgrace
    This book can change your life. It will break your heart and give you hope. It recreates the way things grow, how they connect, and joins us, and all we do, to the tree of life. From solitary lives to a growing forest you see your individual history made meaningful. The future as memory.
  • Long and intense read

    By msbcnj
    Fits perfectly into a new cosmology where we are all one with the planet and the plants. A great intertwining of human and tree story, the interplay of which creates a languid and satisfying read. It was more than halfway through the book before I recognized how it comes together as a novel.
  • Overstory

    By Oakwells
    I'm changed by this book.
  • Still

    Richard Powers novel The Overstory is an act of grace, opening the way to perceive and receive the natural world while sitting still in your chair.
  • Haunting and Life-Changing

    By juliusa
    A magnificent work that will haunt you and lead you to action. You will never look at our world the same way again. Brought me to tears many times, but there is hope. Read this, it will disturb and move you.