A Victoria-based author has impressed the critics once again.
Michael Christie’s new novel, Greenwood, made the long list for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the third of his novels to do so, following If I fall, I die (2015) and The Beggar’s Garden (2011).
The novel is set in the heart of an old-growth, B.C. forest as seen through five generations of a family. The story spans 130 years from 1908 to a calamity-stricken 2038. Throughout this time the views of the members of the Greenwood family shift from seeing the trees as a lucrative business endeavour, to the possible salvation of the planet.
“This novel is a bigger scope than anything else I’ve written before,” Christie said. “It does have quite a bit of resonance with the current climate change and the anxiety everyone is feeling right now.”
The book, he added, has been toted as one of an emerging genre of books known as “climate fiction” or “cli-fi”.
The four-year project took a lot of research on Christie’s part, as he learned about the biological inferences of trees as well as the history of relevant Canadian periods, including the Great Depression, the Saskatchewan Dust bowl and B.C.’s logging history.
Christie researched and wrote one period of time at a time, then pieced them all together.
“I love a good puzzle, and books with a structure you have to figure out,” he said. “It was really fun, my fascination with trees is kind of endless. It was one of the funnest things I’ve researched.”
The novel made the long list cut alongside heavy-hitters like Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and Andre Alexis’ Days by Moonlight, something Christie said he was honoured to learn.
The novel launched on Sept. 24, and he hopes some readers will walk away with something new.
“I’d like them to feel exhilarated, I’d like them to feel emotional,” he said. “And maybe they could be newly or re-sensitized to the beauty and wonder of forests and trees, and the importance of protecting them. It’s not a piece of propaganda… but there’s a feeling throughout it that trees are beautiful creatures that we need to protect.”
Christie launches the book Oct. 8 with a reading at Victoria’s Munro’s Books at 1108 Government St. at 7 p.m.