Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Richard Powers  

Pen Name: None

Genre:

Born: June 18, 1957 in Evanston, Illinois

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Powers was born in Evanston and moved to Lincolnwood in the mid 60's. He attended the University of Illinois. He currently teaches at the University of Illinois and lives in Urbana.

Biographical and Professional Information

Richard Powers is an American novelist whose works explore the effects of modern science and technology. While he was born in and currently resides in Illinois, Richard Powers has lived in Bangkok, Boston, Holland and Cambridge. Most of his books have been inspired by his events in his life and the places his life has taken him.In 1992 he accepted a position as writer-in-residence at the University of Illinois and was named to Illinois's endowed Swanlund Chair in English in 1996 and named Center for Advanced Study Professor of English in 1999. Today, he continues to serve as a Swanlund Professor of English and Professor at the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois as well as write, teach, and travel.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance
ISBN: 0060975091

Harper Perennial. 2001

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's 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.

Prisoner's Dilemma
ISBN: 0060977086

Harper Perennial. 2002

Something is wrong with Eddie Hobson Sr., father of four, sometime history teacher, quiz master, black humorist and virtuoso invalid. His recurring fainting spells have worsened, and with his ingrained aversion to doctors, his worried family tries to discover the nature of his sickness. Meanwhile, in private, Eddie puts the finishing touches on a secret project he calls Hobbstown, a place that he promises will save him, the world and everything that's in it.

A dazzling novel of compassion and imagination, Prisoner's Dilemma is a story of the power of invalid experience.

The Gold Bug Variations
ISBN: 0688098916

William Morrow & Co. 1991

Stuart Ressler, an up-and-coming molecular biologist, finds his career sidetracked by the turmoil of the sixties, and a young couple of the 1980s tries to discover why the biologist abandoned his scientific pursuits

Operation Wandering Soul
ISBN: 006097611X

Harper Perennial. 2002

Highly imaginative and emotionally powerful, this stunning novel about childhood innocence amid the nightmarish disease and deterioration at the heart of modern Los Angeles was nominated for a National Book Award.

Galatea 2.2
ISBN: 0312423136

Picador. 2004

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.

Plowing The Dark
ISBN: 0099286726

Vintage. 2002

In a digital laboratory on the shores of Puget Sound, virtual reality researchers race to complete the Cavern, a bland white room that can become a jungle, a painting, or a vast Byzantine cathedral. In a war-torn city on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, an American is held hostage, chained to a radiator in an empty white room... Adie Klarpol, a disillusioned artist, is invigorated by the thrill of working with the Cavern's cutting-edge technology. As Cold War empires collapse and the Berlin Wall falls, she retreats into the cyber-realities she has been hired to create. In Beirut, English teacher Taimur Martin is held in solitary confinement by Islamic fundamentalists, where he must keep his mind whole by the force of his memory alone. What can possibly join two such remote places? Only the shared imagination, a room that these two people unwittingly build in common, where the strands of this wildly inventive novel coalesce into one.

The Time of Our Singing
ISBN: 0434010626

Heinemann. 2003

A magnificent, multifaceted novel about a supremely gifted -- and divided -- family, set against the backdrop of postwar America

On Easter day, 1939, at Marian Anderson's epochal concert on the Washington Mall, David Strom, a German Jewish émigré scientist, meets Delia Daley, a young Philadelphia Negro studying to be a singer. Their mutual love of music draws them together, and--against all odds and better judgment--they marry. They vow to raise their children beyond time, beyond identity, steeped in song. But their three children must survive America's brutal here and now. Jonah, Joseph, and Ruth grow up during the Civil Rights era, come of age in the violent 1960s, and live out adulthood in the racially retrenched late century. Jonah, the eldest, "whose voice could make heads of state repent," follows a life in his parents' beloved classical music. Ruth, the youngest, chooses a militant activism and repudiates the white culture her brother represents. Joseph, the middle child and the narrator of this generational tale, struggles to remain connected to them both.

The Time of Our Singing is a story of self-invention, allegiance, race, cultural ownership, the compromised power of music, and the tangled loops of time that rewrite all belonging.

The Echo Maker
ISBN: 0312426437

Picador. 2007

Winner of the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction

The Echo Maker is "a remarkable novel, from one of our greatest novelists, and a book that will change all who read it" (Booklist, starred review).

On a winter night on a remote Nebraska road, twenty-seven-year-old Mark Schluter has a near-fatal car accident. His older sister, Karin, returns reluctantly to their hometown to nurse Mark back from a traumatic head injury. But when Mark emerges from a coma, he believes that this woman--who looks, acts, and sounds just like his sister--is really an imposter. When Karin contacts the famous cognitive neurologist Gerald Weber for help, he diagnoses Mark as having Capgras syndrome. The mysterious nature of the disease, combined with the strange circumstances surrounding Mark's accident, threatens to change all of their lives beyond recognition. In The Echo Maker, Richard Powers proves himself to be one of our boldest and most entertaining novelists.

Generosity
ISBN: 1848871252

Atlantic Books. 2010

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.


Awards

-- '''''Gain''''' -- *James Fenimore Cooper Prize, 1998

-- ''The Gold Bug Variations'' -- *TIME Magazine's Best Novel, 1991

-- ''Plowing in the Dark'' -- *Vursell Award, 2000

-- '''''The Echo Maker''''' -- *National Book Award, 2006

-- '''Other Awards:''' -- *One of five "Writers of the Decade" by Esquire magazine, 1999

-- *Lannan Literary Award, 1999

-- *Corrington Award for Literary Excellence

-- *Dos Passos Prize For Literature, 2002

-- *Rosenthal Award

-- *PEN/Hemingway Special Citation

-- *W. H. Smith Literary Award (U.K.)

-- *Ambassador Book Award of the English Speaking Union

-- *American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow

-- *Illinois Author of the Year, Illinois Association of Teachers of English, 2001