New Novel "Greenwood" Launches
in Thunder Bay on Sept. 29
I’m writing to introduce you to my newest novel, Greenwood, which is a saga that follows four generations of one Canadian family over 130 years. The narrative sprawls across Canada from its east to the west coast (with an important interlude in the Lakehead!), and ventures to 1930s Japan as well as contemporary Brooklyn. It was by far the most demanding book I’ve ever attempted, and required an enormous amount of research to complete.
Why did I choose this subject? The short answer is my love of trees. I live with my family on a little forested island just off the coast of Vancouver. It’s where my wife grew up (her name is Cedar, naturally) and I draw great inspiration and comfort from the tall Douglas fir and red cedar that surround and envelop our house.
And the common thread that unites all the members of the Greenwood family is their interdependence with trees: whether through environmental activism, carpentry, biological research, or building a massive timber empire, the Greenwoods are truly people of the forest. Growing up in Thunder Bay, I was acutely aware from an early age of not only the great wonder of forests, but also the importance of resource extraction (or resource development, depending on how you look at it) to the local economy. So in a broader sense, I suppose I wanted to write a nuanced and complicated exploration of the human being’s reliance upon (and dominance of) the tree. Many have described it as an environmental novel, and I wouldn’t disagree.
But most of all Greenwood is about time and greed and generosity and mistakes and sacrifices that resonate through generations. It’s about family, which has been a subject that I find myself returning to in my work again and again.
I’m very much looking forward to the conversation that I’ll be having with my friend Professor Scott Pound at Chapters in Thunder Bay on September 29th, and I hope to see you there. Strangely enough, this very Chapters is where I first filled out my application to the Creative Writing Department at UBC, many years ago. So it’s going to feel like coming home.
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