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Richard Powers has been a recipient of a Lannan Literary Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, as well as a winner of the US National Book Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is the author of eight novels, including The Time of our Singing, Plowing the Dark, and Gain. He lives in Los Angeles.
** LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2018 ** `Autumn makes me think of leaves, which makes me think of trees, which makes me think of The Overstory, the best novel ever written about trees, and really, just one of the best novels, period.' Ann Patchett 'It's a masterpiece.' - Tim Winton 'It's not possible for Powers to write an uninteresting book.' - Margaret Atwood A monumental novel about trees and people by one of our most 'prodigiously talented' (The New York Times Book Review) novelists. The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond: An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers - each summoned in different ways by trees - are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent's few remaining acres of virgin forest. There is a world alongside ours - vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.
Longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2014. Seventy-year old avant-garde composer Peter Els opens the door one evening to find the police outside. His DIY microbiology lab - the latest experiment in his lifelong attempt to extract music from rich patterns beyond the ear's ability to hear - has come to the attention of Homeland Security. Panicked by the raid on his house, Els flees and turns fugitive, waiting for the evidence to clear him and for the alarm surrounding his activities to blow over. But alarm turns to national hysteria, as the government promises a panicked nation that the 'Bioterrorist Bach' will be found and brought to trial. As Els feels the noose around him tighten, he embarks on a cross-country trip to visit, one last time, the people in his past who have most shaped his failed musical journey. And through the help of these people - his ex-wife, his daughter, and his longtime artistic collaborator - Els comes up with a plan to turn this disastrous collision with national security into one last, resonant, calamitous artwork that might reach an audience beyond his wildest dreams.
A magnificent novel that probes the meaning of love, science, music and art, by the showstopping author of The Echo Makers. Reissued and rejacketed along with Powers' entire backlist. The Gold Bug Variations is a double love story of two young couples separated by a distance of twenty-five years. Stuart Ressler, a brilliant young molecular biologist, sets out in 1957 to crack the genetic code. His efforts are sidetracked by other, more intractable codes - social, moral, musical, spiritual - and he falls in love with a member of his research team. Years later, another young man and woman team up to investigate a different scientific mystery - why did the eminently promising Ressler suddenly disappear from the world of science? Strand by strand, these two love stories twist about each other in a double helix of desire. 'The most lavishly ambitious American novel since Gravity's Rainbow... An outright marvel.' Washington Post
Richard Powers is one of the foremost talents of contemporary American literature, winner of the 2006 US National Book Award, and shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. In the spring of 1914, renowned photographer August Sander took a photograph of three young men on their way to a country dance. This haunting image, capturing the last moments of innocence on the brink of World War I, provides the central focus of Powers' brilliant and compelling novel. As the fate of the three farmers is chronicled, two contemporary stories unfold. The young narrator becomes obsessed with the photo, while Peter Mays, a computer writer in Boston, discovers he has a personal link with it. The three stories connect in a surprising way and provide the reader with a mystery that spans a century of brutality and progress.
Galatea 2.2 is a dazzling novel of ideas, that interrogates why we make the choices we do, and what constitutes the human soul. After many years of living abroad, a young writer returns to the United States to take up the position of Humanist-in-Residence at the Centre for the Study of Advanced Sciences. There he encounters Philip Lentz, an outspoken cognitive neurologist intent on using computers to model the human brain. Lentz involves the writer in an outlandish and irresistible project: to train a neural net by reading a canonical list of Great Books. Through repeated tutorials, the machine grows gradually more worldly, until it demands to know its own age, sex, race, and reason for existing...
FROM THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF THE ECHO MAKER, A PLAYFUL AND PROVOCATIVE NOVEL ABOUT THE DISCOVERY OF THE HAPPINESS GENEWhen Chicagoan Russell Stone finds himself teaching a Creative Nonfiction class, he encounters a young Algerian woman with a disturbingly luminous presence. Thassadit Amzwar's blissful exuberance both entrances and puzzles the melancholic Russell. How can this refugee from perpetual terror be so happy? Won't someone so open and alive come to serious harm? Wondering how to protect her, Russell researches her war-torn country and skims through popular happiness manuals. Might her condition be hyperthymia? Hypomania? Russell's amateur inquiries lead him to college counselor Candace Weld, who also falls under Thassa's spell. Dubbed Miss Generosity by her classmates, Thassa's joyful personality comes to the attention of the notorious geneticist and advocate for genomic enhancement, Thomas Kurton, whose research leads him to announce the genotype for happiness. Russell and Candace, now lovers, fail to protect Thassa from the growing media circus. Thassa's congenital optimism is soon severely tested. Devoured by the public as a living prophecy, her genetic secret will transform both Russell and Kurton, as well as the country at large. What will happen to life when science identifies the genetic basis of happiness? Who will own the patent? Do we dare revise our own temperaments? Funny, fast, and finally magical, Generosity celebrates both science and the freed imagination. In his most exuberant book yet, Richard Powers asks us to consider the big questions facing humankind as we begin to rewrite our own existence.
From the Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Overstory, an intense, thrilling novel about a near fatal accident and its devastating consequences. On a winter night, Mark Schluter's truck turns over in a near-fatal accident. His sister, Karin, returns reluctantly to their hometown to look after him. But when he finally awakes from his coma, Mark believes that Karin - who looks, acts, and sounds just like his sister - is really an identical impostor. Shattered by her brother's behaviour, Karin contacts neuroscientist Dr Gerald Weber. But what Weber discovers in Mark begins to undermine even his own sense of self. Meanwhile, Mark, armed only with a note left by an anonymous witness, attempts to learn what really happened. The truth of that evening will change the lives of all three beyond recognition. Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction. `A psychological thriller, a flawed love story, a study of authenticity in emotions, a commentary on America's relations with itself and the world, humanity and ecology... undoubtedly magnificent.' The Times
On a winter night on a remote Nebraska road, twenty-seven year old Mark Schluter flips his truck in a near fatal accident. His older sister, Karin, returns to nurse Mark back from a traumatic head injury. But when he emerges from a coma, Mark believes that this woman is really an impostor who looks just like his sister. Shattered, Karin contacts the cognitive neurologist Gerald Weber, who eagerly investigates. What he discovers in Mark slowly undermines even his own sense of being. Meanwhile, Mark attempts to learn what happened the night of his inexplicable accident-armed only with a note left by an anonymous witness.
From the Booker-shortlisted author of The Overstory, an enthralling, wrenching novel about the lives and choices of one family, caught on the cusp of identities. Jonah, Ruth and Joseph are the children of mixed-race parents determined to raise them beyond time, beyond identity, steeped in song. Yet they cannot be protected from the world forever. Even as Jonah becomes a successful young tenor, the opera arena remains fixated on his race. Ruth turns her back on classical music and disappears, dedicating herself to activism and a new relationship. As the years pass, Joseph - the middle child, a pianist and our narrator - must battle not just to remain connected to his siblings, but to forge a future of his own. This is a story of the tragedy of race in America, told through the lives and choices of one family caught on the cusp of identities. `An epic novel of modern America that weaves ideas of race, music and science into a mysterious but satisfying tapestry... Endlessly fascinating' Independent
FROM THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE SHORTLISTED AUTHOR OF THE OVERSTORY Richard Powers' novel is a fascinating and profound exploration of the interaction of an individual human life and a corporate one. It tells two stories: the first that of an American company, which starts as a small family soap and candle-making firm in the early 1800s, and ends as a vast pharmaceuticals-to-pesticides combine in the 1990s. The second is that of a contemporary woman, living in the company town, who during the course of the novel is diagnosed and then finally dies of cancer, a cancer that is almost certainly caused by exposure to chemical wastes from the company's factories. Richly intellectually stimulating, deeply moving and beautifully written, Gain is very much a 'Great American Novel', an exploration of the history, uniqueness and soul of America, in the tradition of Underworld. But it is most reminiscent of Graham Swift's Waterland, another novel that combines history, both public and private, with contemporary lives, showing how individuals are both the victims and shapers of large-scale historical and economic forces