- Greenwood, by Michael Christie. Scribe. $32.99.
Richard Powers won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2019 for his tree-centric novel, The Overstory, which intertwined the life of its characters and nature.
Now, in that mould, comes Greenwood, an impressive ecological novel by Canadian author Michael Christie.
Greenwood begins in 2038 with a world impacted by 'the Great Withering'.
It's a wave of fungal blight and insect infestations, which has destroyed nearly all the trees across the globe.
As a result of rising temperatures and the lack of forests, soils have dried up releasing "killer dust clouds" resulting in "rib-retch", a lethal cough.
The majority of the world's books have been pulped for wood fibre to make dust masks and air filters.
With the global economy in ruins and cities turned to "dust-choked slums", Canada is one of the last countries still functioning.
Off the coast of British Columbia, Greenwood Island's 'Arboreal Cathedral' is an eco- resort for the ultra-rich in one of the world's last old-growth forests.
Dr Jake Greenwood, known as Jake, a graduate dendrologist, has taken a job as a Forest tour guide on the island which bears her family name.
The family money, however, accumulated by massive logging by Harris Greenwood was dissipated in the 1970s.
Jake, burdened with student debt, can't afford to lose her job, which will certainly occur if she reveals that some of the thousand year old trees are now diseased.
Christie, in a narrative concentrically structured like the rings of a tree, then takes the reader back to 1908.
Here, the fate of two boys will impact the story of the family and an intertwined history which will finally play out in 2038.
The family history in the 1930s deliberately echoes the dust bowls of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.
These also foreshadow Christie's greater dustbowl catastrophe in the 21st century.
Christie recounts each generation's story through flashbacks in which families, like forests, experience both loss and renewal.
Jake is aware of how her own life is being pulled by "unseen layers, girded by lives that came before her own".
Ultimately, she reflects family is "like a forest, a collection of individuals pooling their resources through intertwined roots".
Jake will be the determinant of her own fate, confronting a major choice, as Christie puts it, of "when do we choose self-preservation and when do we choose survival in a broader sense"?
From the future, to the present, the past and back again, Greenwood is a moving novel of family sacrifice and love for a natural world.