In February 2019 I began this blog thanking Nobel Laureate Professor Roald Hoffmann quantum chemist, poet and playwright for all his work. Now, he suggests this book.
‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers, published by Vintage 2019. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2019. Its focus on trees and our connections with them challenges mind and heart. We need it in the face of climate change. We need to be thinking again.
Why is it special for me? He quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson, James Lovelock and Bill Neidjie. An Aboriginal Elder, he is ‘Gagudju Man: Bill Neidjie’ and his book, ‘The environmental and spiritual philosophy of a senior traditional owner, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia, published by JB Books, Australia, 2002.
Gagadju Man: Keeping his legacy alive is a film made, with permission, by AIATSIS . “Big Bill Neidjie was the keeper of ancient knowledge and the last speaker of the Gagudju language from northern Kakadu. He was instrumental in the establishment of Kakadu National Park and was deeply committed to sharing his love for his country and his culture,” Professor Dodson said. “He was a truly great Australian and we are honoured that his family has chosen AIATSIS to hold this very special film and help continue his journey – to share his culture with all Australians.” I’m glad to see his approach to life acknowledged by Richard Powers in this book that Tim Winton calls ‘a masterpiece’.
Richard Powers quotes part of his poem about ‘tree’. He ends at this point. ‘Tree and grass same thing’. Big Bill Neidjie goes on. ‘They grow with your body/with your feeling.’
For 2020, I offer trees, despite our devastating bushfires. As well as Richard Powers’ ‘Overstory’, in the ‘The Songs of Trees’ by David George Haskell, visit the olive tree.