With Richard Powers' new novel, Bewilderment, already shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and The Overstory continuing to enthral the likes of Barack Obama, Jessie Burton and Emma Thompson, now is the perfect time to dive into his decorated and exhilarating catalogue of work.

Heralded as one of America's greatest literary voices, his novels and characters navigate everything from AI to the American Dream, trees to astrobiology, virtual reality to the human genetic code, delving into the interconnectedness of individual human lives and forces much larger. 

Bewilderment (2021)

They share a lot, astronomy and childhood. Both are voyages across huge distances... Both are forever starting out.

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2021 before its publication, Bewilderment is, at its core, a tale of the extraordinary power of a father's love for his son. As a widower, Theo Byrne is fiercely protective of nine-year-old Robin, a boy who feels everything deeply, is devoted to the natural world, and desperate to try and save it.

In one of his most intimate and moving novels, Powers explores their shared fascination with the possibility of life on other planets, their frustrations at the man-made destruction of this one, and the tussle between Theo and outside forces to understand and control his unusual son.

The Overstory (2019)

What you make from a tree should be at least as miraculous as what you cut down.

The Overstory is a sweeping, impassioned story of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of, and paean to, the natural world - in particular - trees. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of nine strangers, each summoned in different ways who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and beloved by everyone from Barack Obama to Emma Thompson, this is a wise, deep, moving epic by an exceptional writer. 

Gain (2000)

No matter that one in five lived without means and that the top one percent controlled more assets than the bottom ninety-nine.

A fascinating and profound exploration of the interaction of an individual human life and a corporate one, Gain tells two stories. The first is that of an American company – Clare & Company – which starts as a small family-run soap and candle-making firm in the early 1800s and ends as a vast international corporation in the 1990s. The second is that of Laura Bodey, divorced mother of two and a real-estate agent in a small town, who learns that she has ovarian cancer.

Clare’s stunning growth reflects the kaleidoscopic history of America; Laura Bodey’s life is changed forever by Clare. The novel’s stunning conclusion reveals the countless invisible connections between the largest enterprises and the smallest lives.

Plowing the Dark (2001)

How much they knew, these new children. How concentrated their knowledge of every mechanism, except for life.

On the west coast of America, virtual reality researchers race to complete the Cavern, a plain white room that can become a jungle, a painting or a vast Byzantine cathedral. Adie Klarpol, a disillusioned artist, is fascinated by this cutting-edge technology.

In a war-torn city on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, an American teacher - Taimur Martin - is held hostage, chained to a radiator in an empty white room.

What can possibly join two such remote places? Only the shared imagination, a room that these two people unwittingly build in common. Plowing the Dark is fiction that explores the imagination’s power both to destroy and save.

The Echo Maker (2007)

Nothing anyone can do for anyone, except to recall: We are every second being born.

Following a near-fatal accident, Mark Schluter is nursed by his sister, Karin. But when he emerges from his coma, Mark believes that this woman – who looks, acts, and sounds just like Karin – 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.

The Echo Maker is a gripping mystery that explores, and calls into the question, the very notion of a human self. 

The Time of Our Singing (2003)

The use of music is to remind us how short a time we have a body.

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,

Jonah, the eldest, follows a life in his parents’ beloved classical music. Ruth, the youngest, devotes herself to community activism and a new relationship. Joseph, the middle child and the narrator of this generation-bridging tale, struggles to find himself and remain connected to them both.

A magnificent, multifaceted novel about a supremely gifted—and divided—family, set against the backdrop of post-war America.

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