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City of Trees

City of Trees: Essays on Life, Death and the Need for a Forest

Sophie Cunningham

  • awardLonglisted, NIB Waverley Literary Award, 2019
  • How do we take in the beauty of our planet while processing the losses? What trees can survive in the city? Which animals can survive in the wild? How do any of us—humans, animals, trees—find a forest we can call home?

    In these moving, thought-provoking essays Sophie Cunningham considers the meaning of trees and our love of them. She chronicles the deaths of both her fathers, and the survival of P-22, a mountain lion in Griffith Park, Los Angeles; contemplates the loneliness of Ranee, the first elephant in Australia; celebrates the iconic eucalyptus and explores its international status as an invasive species.

    City of Trees is a powerful collection of nature, travel and memoir writing set in the context of global climate change. It meanders through, circles around and sometimes faces head on the most pressing issues of the day. It never loses sight of the trees.


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    Sophie Cunningham
    About the Author

    Sophie Cunningham is a former publisher and the author of two novels, Geography published in 2004, and Bird published in 2008. She is a former editor of Meanjin, and the the current Chair of the Literature Strategy Panel of the Australia Council. She was a founding member of the Stella Prize.

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    14 January 2020
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    Praise for Sophie Cunningham
    andCity of Trees

    ‘[The] ability to hold and make space for opposing concepts is where the strength and beauty of [Cunningham’s] writing lies…City of Trees is a breath of fresh air accompanied by the knowledge of how much is lost, or is being lost…Through these essays one can find the hope and understanding to live and thrive in these dark times.‘

    ‘In this poignant and timely collection of essays, Sophie Cunningham touches on matters private and political, historical and current, beautiful and terrifying.’

    ‘…these fine essays convey what factual reporting on the threat of climate change and the loss of habitat cannot: something beautiful is dying, something precious and monumental may be lost forever. … Cunningham’s essays are accounts of her intimate encounters with trees, her gift is in making them feel like they are our stories as well.’

    City of Trees is a sorrowful meditation on the effects of climate change and time, but it is also full of wonder, of hope.’

    ‘I came to see each essay in this book like a long walk with a destination in mind, but with many fascinating detours and asides to make along the way. … I found City of Trees almost addictive. … Reading this book was like taking a bracing walk with a stimulating conversationalist, but if you embark on this walk prepare to be patient - your companion will pause often to snap photos of the trees.’

    ‘[Cunningham’s] naif, free-form style, is a perfect foil for the stories-within-stories-within stories that lie at the heart of this important, entertaining and moving book.’

    ‘[T]he beauty of these essays is the way in which we are transported to the presence of each individual tree under examination. Time slows down for the small observations.’

    ‘Sophie Cunningham offers a very personal tour…with thoughtful analyses and a relaxed wit.‘

    City of Trees is a deeply ethical and thoughtful call to consciousness, a call to see and feel being in and of the natural world.’

    ‘Amazing…Cunningham’s walking essays perform a new kind of way-finding – they seek to reconstitute our relation to place by unthinking, unlearning, unwriting, in the hope that the self, too, might change under the influence of trees, and in their company.’

    ‘A tapestry of stories that are wise, funny, moving and topical. You’ll read this collection and feel more knowledgable about cities, seals, nature, history and the fragile future of our trees. Memoir and an invitation to take nature a little more seriously. Never more important than now.‘

    Other editions ofCity of Trees
    • City of Trees
      ISBN: 9781925774245
      2 April 2019
      Buy ebook
    Other Titles bySophie Cunningham