Generosity: An Enhancement (Paperback)
After reading about Richard Powers' novels for years, I've finally, very gladly, read one. His latest is Generosity: An Enhancement wherein the lynchpin character is a teacher of writing at an arts college in Chicago. Having early success as a writer but soon thereafter falling victim to writer's block, he feels inadequate in most elements of his life. Astonishingly, in his class he meets an Algerian refugee who, despite a terribly harsh past, has always maintained a constancy of happiness. She is an inspiration to his students but a worry to him, so much so that he consults a psychologist at the college.
A scientist studying the Algerian's "disorder" (called hyperthermia) and a videographer also become involved so that the novel embraces many subjects. Among them: the art of writing, the video arts, the study of genomes and how they can be manipulated or even manufactured for profit; what teachers owe their students and vice-versa, how technology is transforming our lives, the ethics of psychology and the mystery of love. And more. The narrator's occasional intrusion as the writer struggling to understand his characters and get them right also reminds readers that writing fiction is no easy task, and makes me look forward to reading more of Richard Powers' oeuvre.— From Diane
October 2009 Indie Next List
“From laugh-out-loud whimsy to reeling philosophical depth, Generosity tells the story of an unusually contented young woman and the people who wish to possess her, or at least her DNA, to create the world's first happiness gene. I read this stunning book with such rapt attention and awe that when I finished it I wanted to start again. Generosity is both exquisitely timely and for the ages.”
— Sheryl Cotleur, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
The National Book Award-winning author of The Echo Maker proves yet again that "no writer of our time dreams on a grander scale or more knowingly captures the zeitgeist." (The Dallas Morning News).
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 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.
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year
About the Author
Richard Powers is the author of New York Times bestseller Bewilderment; The Overstory, which won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction; and The Echo Maker, which won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; among many other novels. Powers has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Historical Fiction, and is a four-time National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. He lives in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.
“Provocative...fascinating...dazzling.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“An excellent introduction to Powers's work, a lighter, leaner treatment of his favorite themes and techniques...An engaging story-teller...even as he questions the conventions of narrative and character, Generosity gains in momentum and suspense.”—Jay McInerney, The New York Times Book Review
“Powers is a brilliantly imaginative writer, working here with a lightness of touch, a crisp sense of peace, and a distinct warmth...Powers shows both his reach as a student of humanity and his mastery as a storyteller.”—O, The Oprah Magazine
“When written by Dostoevsky, Dickens, or Richard Powers at his best, one may feel that [the novel] can contain every facet of the world.”—Michael Dirda, The New York Review of Books
“Powers fuses riveting narrative and spot-on dialogue with thought-provoking social analysis.”—Dan Cryer, Newsday
“One of our most exciting contemporary novelists.”—Amanda Gefter, Philadelphia Inquirer
"Powers is better than the best of almost anybody else."—John Leonard, Harper's Magazine
"Powers may well be one of the smartest novelists now writing."—Los Angeles Times
"One of our greatest novelists."—Booklist
"[Powers's] characters are unforgettable, flesh-and-blood individuals as finely drawn as those of any contemporary fiction writer."—Steve Weinberg, The Seattle Times
"To read his work is to be wowed by his verbal muscularity...admirable...wonderfully original."—Meg Wolitzer, The New York Times Book Review