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Generosity Hardcover – 1 Jan 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; UK First Edition; 1st printing. edition (1 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848871252
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848871250
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.9 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 834,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Powers is one of the best writers working now, and Generosity is full of agile sentences and odd characters. It features a young woman who is always simply happy; this strikes all the other characters as being so unusual that she soon comes under the scrutiny of scientists and the media. --Audrey Niffenegger, Guardian

Compulsive... Powers persists in an heroic attempt to be that mythical being, a modern Renaissance man, as at home in the language of science as in the laboratories of literature...[Generosity is] a meditation on the human condition. --Tim Adams, Observer

[Powers'] writing is smart, tender and wrenchingly anxious about the approaching era... Generosity is a bracingly intelligent fable about the choices that face us. --Herald

Powers is not afraid or unambitious when it comes to choosing his subject matter... Frequently insightful, provocative and witty. --Herald

Powers, whose previous novel, The Echo Maker won the National Book Award, has always been adept at exploring the problematic frontiers of contemporary science. Here, his acuity and satire are as sharp as ever, allowing him to deconstruct brilliantly the commercially charged world of genome mapping, where Brahmins are well on the way to patenting and controlling the stuff of our being... What really makes Generosity tick, however, are its characters, who are as multifaceted and alive as any Powers has ever created --Sunday Times

About the Author

Richard Powers has been a recipient of a Lannan Literary Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, as well as a finalist for the US National Book Award and a three-times finalist for the US National Book Critics Circle Award. He is the author of eight novels, including The Time of our Singing, Plowing the Dark, and Gain. He lives in Illinois.

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 10 Oct 2009
Format: Hardcover
(4.5 stars) Once again, Richard Powers has reinvigorated the whole concept of the "novel of ideas,' writing yet another intellectual novel, based on neuroscience but defying facile categorization into genres. In some respects GENEROSITY is a social satire, and in others, it verges on science-fiction, but it also incorporates elements of metafiction, and its intellectual focus keeps the reader on his/her toes as Powers develops and expands themes and plot lines about the human genome that are both fascinating and original.

Russell Stone, a dweebish "nice guy," is teaching a course at Chicago's Mesquakie College of Art in "creative non-fiction," a genre formerly known as the "personal essay." His class consists of the usual assortment of art students of various ages with various goals, and, as they read their journal entries on successive class meetings, they soon become close. Thassadit Amzwar, a twenty-three-year-old Algerian Berber from Kabylie, however, quickly becomes the focus of the group for her perennial good humor and upbeat attitudes. Thassa has survived the ongoing Algerian Civil War, which began in 1991, supported by Islamist fundamentalists. An entry in her journal includes the discovery of her father's executed body after he wrote a letter to the newspaper challenging governmental policies, and it shocks the class, but it is her unconquerable good humor which leaves the longest-lasting impression on her classmates.

In Boston, Thomas Kurton, a pure scientist, is investigating the chemistry that underlies emotions and the genome which may be responsible for human happiness. Kurton believes that "aging is not just a disease; it's the mother of all maladies. And humankind may finally have a shot at curing it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Herman Norford on 27 Dec 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In Generosity, Richard Powers takes us back into the world of genetic science so wonderfully explored in his novel, The Gold Bug Variations. Generosity is Powers tenth novel in which he continues his grand scheme of bringing together the arts and the sciences. But this should not suggest that the novels are alike. Take the last three novels, The Time of our Singing among other things saw Powers exploring race, music and time, The Echo Maker combines a look at the impact of Capgras Syndrome with concerns about the environment and in Generosity genetic engineering in the form of a search for a happiness gene is combined with a dazzling exploration of the scope and nature of writing both fiction and non-fiction.

Generosity is a novel that is thin on plot and great characterization. These are not its purpose. So with tongue in cheek a brief synopsis of the story is as follows. Mr Powers runs two parallel stories together before dove tailing them. A failed writer, Russell Stone, turns to teaching "creative non-fiction" at an art college, where he meets the central character, Thassadit Amzwar an Algerian who has a propensity to display happiness. Thassadit soon becomes the centre of attraction for just about everyone who wants to gain the capacity for being happy most of the times. But more crucially geneticist, Thomas Kurton, who happens to be doing research into gene therapy, learns about Thassadit's condition and of course pursues her in a quest to ascertain if her happiness is derived from her genes. Fleshing out the story are two couples Russell Stone and Candace Weld, and Thomas Kurton and Tonia Schiff. Stuck among them causing happiness or more ironically angst is Thassadit. The time period is contemporary and the setting is mainly Chicago but sometimes moving to Tunisia.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Leyla Sanai on 20 Dec 2009
Format: Hardcover
The American novelist Richard Powers is one of those writers who straddles both commercial and critical success. His last novel - his ninth, Echomaker - won the US National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer, while his other works have gathered armfuls of other awards and acclaim. Generosity, his tenth novel, published in the UK in January 2010, comes emblazoned with praise for his work from the likes of Margaret Atwood writing in the NY Review of Books and the late John Updike in the NY Times, while the accompanying blurb is equally full of plaudits.

Powers blends fast-paced, action-packed storylines with intelligence and a ferocious imagination. In Generosity he tackles the world of genetic engineering. The novel is set in current time but in a parallel world, one in which 20% of human genes have already been patented. Russell Stone is a failed writer whose brief glimpse of fame faded when he realised the unforseen human consequences of his cutting articles: he toned his work down to avoid hurting more people but was deemed to have lost his bite. He is now working as a ghost writer for a confessional website while teaching part-time. When he embarks on his new course as lecturer in an evening class on writing, he is mystified by an Algerian woman in his class. Thassa is a twenty three year-old refugee who has tragically lost both her parents and experienced brutality first-hand in her home country. Yet she is so full of natural radiance that everyone around her is magnetised.

Simultaneously, Thomas Kurton, a famous geneticist is toiling away at his research. He has previously produced transgenic cows which produce milk containing proteins capable of curing some human illness. His most recent work is isolating the genes responsible for happiness.
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