The Overstory by Richard Powers

The Overstory

A monumental novel about reimagining our place in the living world 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 b...

Details The Overstory

TitleThe Overstory
Release DateApr 3rd, 2018
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
GenreFiction, Literary Fiction, Environment, Nature, Literature, American

Reviews The Overstory

  • Ron Charles
    Richard Powers’s “The Overstory” soars up through the canopy of American literature and remakes the landscape of environmental fiction.Long celebrated for his compelling, cerebral books, Powers demonstrates a remarkable ability to tell dramatic, emotionally involving stories while delving into subjects many readers would otherwise find arcane. He’s written about genetics, pharmaceuticals, artificial intelligence, music and photography. In...
  • Neil
    Two quotes from different parts of this book:"The best arguments in the world won’t change a person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story."And"Yes! And what do all good stories do?" There are no takers. Neelay holds up his arms and extends his palms in the oddest gesture. In another moment, leaves will grow from his fingers. Birds will come and nest in them. "They kill you a little. They turn you into something you weren’t...
  • Blair
    The Overstory is the second Richard Powers book I have read – after Plowing the Dark – and although I liked this a lot more, I find it equally difficult to talk about. Perhaps it's simply the scope of it: the cast of characters alone is vast, and if I start trying to write a summary of each of them I'll be here all day. The plot is even harder to pin down. It is, of course, basically about trees. Trees as the extraordinary, underappreciated...
  • Paul Fulcher
    The Overstory is the first Richard Powers novel I have read but he, and indeed this book, comes highly recommended (not least by my good Goodreads friend Neil) and this was certainly a striking if flawed read. The first part of the novel consists of 8 separate short stories (ranging from 9 to 33 pages) with the background and life of some, at that time, unconnected characters.In each of the stories trees play a part, albeit with very varying leve...
  • Venero Armanno
    A brilliant treatise on the value of trees and nature, the interconnection between all things, humans (unfortunately, more often as destroyers than nurturers) included. The structure of the novel resembles something like vast root networks coalescing into tree structures - nine characters from opening stories that don't connect eventually do connect in a long section called "Trunk", and from there these lives take on a number of differing directi...
  • Dax
    I received an ARC from WW Norton through the goodreads giveaway program.It is evident from the very first page that Powers has an agenda with his latest novel “The Overstory.” Powers wants us to realize that we have a Midas problem. Human beings have established a culture of insatiability which will ultimately lead to our own destruction. “How do you win? I mean, how would you even lose? The only thing that really counts is hoarding a littl...
  • Bruce Katz
    I can't imagine how to assign a "star" value to this book. I mean, I have no idea what 5 stars or 4 stars might signify with regards to a work like this. But I feel obliged to do something... This is exactly what one would expect from a Powers novel: numerous passages of gorgeous writing, complexity, overflowing with ideas and allusions, intellectually demanding, emotionally uncertain, occasionally utterly opaque, and deeply resistant to categori...
  • Logan Farmer
    I can't stop thinking about this book. A sprawling literary eco-epic, The Overstory is the kind of novel that changes people. It's a riveting call to arms and a bitter indictment of our wasteful culture. More than this, it's an incredibly human story with a huge cast of rich characters that you'll never forget. Dense but accessible, Powers is a master of intersecting science, art, and spirituality without sacrificing plot. I pity the next custome...
  • Stephanie Crowe
    Provocative and powerful! It gives one pause about how cavalier man is when it comes the natural world and how little we understand and appreciate the gifts offered by nature. Powers relates insightful tales of how a group of passionate individuals took responsibility for saving trees and the environment.Beautifully written!
  • Eleanor
    Richard Powers is fast making his way into my favourite writers of all time (a permanently shifting category that at the moment includes A.S. Byatt, Sarah Hall, and William Thackeray). The Overstory, his latest book, is maybe his most ambitious yet: it seeks, essentially, to instill in its reader a sense of sympathy and identification with trees. That Powers actually manages it is confirmation that he is one of the most skilled writers currently...
  • Michael Cayley
    A beautifully written book with a strong environmental theme, centred on trees. The first part consists of a set of short stories of varying lengths in widely differing styles - a virtuoso demonstration of Richard Powers’ skills as a writer of fiction. The period covered by the stories ranges from the mid-19th century to the present, and embraces pioneer life in the USA, the great depression, US military involvement in SE Asia, the invention of...
  • Jenni Ogden
    Richard Powers is an incredible writer and his early successful novel "The Echo Maker" remains one of my favourite novels. He is very much a literary novelist, and his novels are often not immediate page turners, but more stories that need concentration and perhaps the right time and place to read them. 'The Overstory' is no exception; its structure masterful, its overarching environmental theme held in the stories of humans and trees and their c...
  • Edwin Howard
    An epic story of nine individuals drawn to trees in various ways, THE OVERSTORY, by Richard Powers, weaves these lives into recent history and uses those lives to reflect upon nature (particularly trees), life's purpose and contemplates how much nature needs human existence and vice versa. Powers begins the book by providing a very specific history of each character and once each of the nine are established and we understand how they got to where...
  • Lucy
    Immense, mighty, intricately supporting one another; the trees in the forests, and the numerous stories that make up his powerful narrative.The Overstory is a complex tale, binding together the tales of a number of individuals, each with their own tale to tell, each connected to trees in some way, and ultimately all branching together. Each character is well rounded and beautifully written - the reader is drawn intimately into their backgrounds a...
  • Robin
    The Overstory is a hard book to review as, like a tree, it has so many rings and stories circling throughout it. "The best arguments in the world won’t change a person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story." This is a line one of the characters of the interlocking storiesspeaks early on. The Overstory is not just a good story, it is a powerful piece of writing that brings trees into the forefront of our ecosystem and how we ...
  • Sai
  • Kathleen
    Who knew that an epic as much about trees and their interconnections as about human ties could be so compelling or that the death of a tree could be so painful? This is a stunning eco-epic, powerfully conceived and written.
  • Adam Morgan
    A masterwork sculpted from sheer awe.
  • Lydia
    Maybe this only happens to me- finding weird parallels in the book you just read and the book you are currently's an odd book pairing for you: "The Hidden Life of Trees" by Peter Wohlleben and this book here. You'll see why if you read them.
  • Lori L (She Treads Softly)
    The Overstory by Richard Powers is a very highly recommended, masterful, epic saga about trees and our relationship to them."The tree is saying things, in words before words."There are nine main characters in this story that spans over fifty years. The novel is broken down into four main sections, Roots, Trunk, Crown, and Seeds. The chapters in each section follow the main characters introduced in "Roots." The characters include Nick Hoel. Mimi M...
  • BJ Hillinck
    A gorgeous, thrilling, and eye-opening eco-opera — Powers' love for the natural world shines from every page. More importantly, the sheer amount of attention and information on display about trees is truly awe-inspiring. The Overstory takes on the task of lighting fires — in its world as well as in the hearts of its characters and readers. Might seem strange for a book about trees, but as Powers mentions, some seeds need fires to grow.
  • Perry
    I enjoyed this more than Orfeo, but there is a greatest hits quality to Powers' most recent novels. I wonder what one of his books would be like with just one narrative. I don't think he is interested in writing that.