A spellbinding eco fable for fans of David Mitchell, Richard Powers, and Margaret Atwood.
'The truth is that all family lines, from the highest to the lowest, originate somewhere, on some particular day. Even the grandest trees must've once been seeds spun helpless on the wind, and then just meek saplings nosing up from the soil.'
2038. On a remote island off the Pacific coast of British Columbia stands the Greenwood Arboreal Cathedral, one of the world's last forests. Wealthy tourists flock from all corners of the dust-choked globe to see the spectacle and remember what once was. But even as they breathe in the fresh air and pose for photographs amidst the greenery, guide Jake knows that the forest is dying, though her bosses won't admit it.
1908. Two passenger locomotives meet head-on. The only survivors are two young boys, who take refuge in a trapper's cabin in a forest on the edge of town. In twenty-six years, one of them, now a recluse, will find an abandoned baby – another child of Greenwood – setting off a series of events that will change the course of his life, and the lives of those around him.
Structured like the rings of a tree, this remarkable novel moves from the future to the present to the past, and back again, to tell the story of one family and their enduring connection to the place that brought them together.
Michael Christie is the author of the novel If I Fall, If I Die, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Kirkus Prize, was selected as a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and was on numerous best of 2015 lists. His linked collection of stories, The Beggar’s Garden, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and won the Vancouver Book Award. His essays and book reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Globe and Mail. A former carpenter and homeless shelter worker, he divides his time between Victoria, British Columbia, and Galiano Island, where he lives with his wife and two sons in a timber-frame house that he built himself.
"An arresting eco-parable."
– Alfred Hickling, The Guardian
"There are plenty of visionary moments laced into [Christie's] shape-shifting narrative [...] Greenwood penetrates to the core of things."
– Michael Upchurch, The New York Times Book Review
"This book is why we read books. Why we need books. Wildly inventive, structurally elegant, deeply felt, and so very wise. Greenwood is Michael Christie's best work ever, and that's saying something."
– Alexander MacLeod, author of Light Lifting
"A lyrical, meditative take on a world in which forests have become such rare commodities that they are turned into therapeutic retreats for the very wealthy."
– Sally Adee, New Scientist
"Christie skillfully teases out the details in a page-turner of a saga that complements sylvan books such as Sometimes a Great Notion and The Overstory [...] Beguilingly structured, elegantly written: eco-apocalyptic but with hope that somehow we'll make it."
– Kirkus, starred review
"This is one of 'those' books. One of 'those' books that grabs your heart and soul and fills you up to overflowing with the immensity of all that's contained within its pages."
– Gill Chedgey, NB magazine
"Greenwood is brilliant. Michael Christie shows a cross section of one family's history, revealing their dark secrets, loves, losses, and the mark of an accident still visible four generations later. Year by year, page by page, the layers of this intricate and elegant novel build into an epic story that is completely absorbing. I had to cancel everything for this book because I couldn't stop reading."
– Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal
"[An] eerily real-feeling future."
– Globe and Mail
"Rich with evocative descriptions of West Coast wilderness and anchored by a deep visceral bond to the trees that sustain us all, Greenwood is a literary page-turner that manages to be both nostalgic and modern, personal and political, intimately human and big-picture historical. In an era of so much uncertainty, it is comforting to see novelists begin to work through the biggest issue of our age. And, in this case, convert our collective suffering into brilliant, beauty-filled art."
– Toronto Star
"[S]tructured like the growth rings of a tree, spanning generation [...] [Greenwood] looks at families, love and secrets against the backdrop of the 'magic' of trees."
– CBC News