Eleanor Catton's new book: Billionaire survivalists and guerrilla gardenersby Russell Baillie
The Man Booker Prize-winner's forthcoming novel will be less than half the length of The Luminaries.
To be titled Birnam Wood, the book is described as a psychological thriller set in a remote part of New Zealand where rich foreigners have armed themselves in fortress-like homes in anticipation of a global catastrophe.
The book takes its name from the “guerrilla gardening squad” at the centre of the story – “a ragtag group of quarrelling leftists who move about the country cultivating other people's land”, says a statement from Victoria University Press which has bought the New Zealand rights to the book.
The group’s encounter with an American billionaire sparks a tragic sequence of events “which questions, ultimately, how far each of us would go to ensure our own survival – and at what cost.”
In a November interview with Paperboy, Catton hinted at the survivalist and environmentalist themes of the book.
“I find survivalists very tiresome. I think there is a lot of misanthropy in a lot of environmentalism that I find really grates on me. I don’t like the stance that human beings are evil, and this kind of arrogance that you’re going to be the one who survives, and lord it over all the stupid people.”
VUP published Catton’s debut novel The Rehearsal and her 2013 Man Booker Prize-winning The Luminaries.
Catton’s book has been sold on outline with Granta, which published The Luminaries in Britain and Australia acquiring the rights for those territories again.
Birnam Wood is due to be delivered to the publishers at the end of this year, with a proposed length of 80,000-100,000 words. The Luminaries, which Catton has been adapting for a television series, was nearly 270,000 words.
The new novel’s plot seems timely with reports of wealthy Americans like billionaire and Trump advisor Peter Thiel buying land in New Zealand’s southern lakes areas and a rise in applications for NZ citizenship by American migrants.
New Zealand can't just adopt a wait-and-see stance towards this potentially catastrophic conflict.Read more
A farmers' group is rejecting the notion that reducing the national dairy herd is the most effective way to make New Zealand's rivers more swimmable.Read more
There was a 13-year gap between the Madrid train bombings and the attack in Barcelona, but that's not because of a lack of interest by terrorists.Read more
With Treasury set to reveal the state of the government books today, political parties will find out if they can afford their campaign promises.Read more
Jones can point to a multitude of design flaws in commercial buildings, but now he’s about to build towers of his own using a radical green design.Read more
Analysis - The rise of Jacinda Ardern and the resignation of Peter Dunne show New Zealand's political scene is heading towards a generational change,Read more
Apart from Fox News and anything Mike Hosking, you don't often come across genuine TV shockers.Read more