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
On a winter night on a remote road in Nebraska, Mark Schluter's truck turns over in a near fatal accident. His sister, Karin, returns reluctantly to their home town 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 imposter.
Shattered by her brother's refusal to recognise her, Karin contacts Dr Gerald Weber, famous for his case studies describing the infinitely bizarre worlds of brain disorder. 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 happened on the night of his accident. The truth of that evening will change the lives of all three beyond recognition.
Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.
When Russell Stone becomes the teacher of a young Algerian woman with a disturbingly luminous presence, he is both entranced and troubled. How can this refugee from terror radiate such bliss? Is it possible to be so open and alive without coming to serious harm? Soon, Thassa's joyful personality comes to the attention of the notorious geneticist and advocate for genomic enhancement, Thomas Kurton, whose research has enabled him to announce his discovery of the genetic underpinnings of happiness. Thassa's congenital optimism is severely tested by the growing media circus. Devoured by the public as a living prophecy, her genetic secret will transform both Russell and Kurton, as well as the world at large.Generosity is Richard Powers' most exuberant and exhilarating book yet.
LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2014Seventy-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.
After four novels and several years living abroad, the fictional protagonist of Galatea 2.2-'Richard Powers-'returns to the United States as Humanist-in-Residence at the enormous Center for the Study of Advanced Sciences. There he runs afoul of Philip Lentz, an outspoken cognitive neurologist intent upon modeling the human brain by means of computer-based neural networks. Lentz involves Powers in an outlandish and irresistible project: to train a neural net on a canonical list of Great Books. Through repeated tutorials, the device grows gradually more worldly, until it demands to know its own name, sex, race, and reason for exisiting.