Eleanor Catton’s Latest Has a Serious Message
It has been 10 years since New Zealander Eleanor Catton became, at 28, the youngest writer to be awarded the Booker prize, Lisa Allardice writes in a profile piece for The Guardian. Her third novel, Birnam Wood, is a satire-cum-psychological-eco-thriller about a young guerrilla gardening collective, set in a fictional New Zealand national park.
The novel revolves around the New Zealand national obsession: property, Allardice writes.
While Catton shares her generation’s anger at the boomers – for presiding over a period that has seen the introduction of university tuition fees, the financial crisis and an acceleration of the climate crisis for starters – the novel’s sharpest satire is directed at her own tribe: well-meaning, left-leaning millennials.
Catton wanted to satirise the toxicity of so much public discourse, particularly on the left, which she feels has become “a kind of purity test” in which you are judged on using the right language or not. “‘Is a woman a woman?’ for example. It becomes this kind of test.”
Original article by Lisa Allardice, The Guardian, February 18, 2023.
Photo by Sarah Lee.