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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (918 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Richard Powers Narrator: David Pittu Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2009 ISBN: 9781427207685
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FROM THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD–WINNING AUTHOR OF THE ECHO MAKER, A PLAYFUL AND PROVOCATIVE NOVEL ABOUT THE DISCOVERY OF THE HAPPINESS GENE

When Chicagoan Russell Stone finds himself teaching a Creative Nonfiction class, he encounters a young Algerian woman with a disturbingly luminous presence. Thassadit Amzwar's blissful exuberance both entrances and puzzles the melancholic Russell. How can this refugee from perpetual terror be so happy? Won't someone so open and alive come to serious harm? Wondering how to protect her, Russell researches her war-torn country and skims through popular happiness manuals. Might her condition be hyperthymia? Hypomania? Russell's amateur inquiries lead him to college counselor Candace Weld, who also falls under Thassa's spell. Dubbed Miss Generosity by her classmates, Thassa's joyful personality comes to the attention of the notorious geneticist and advocate for genomic enhancement, Thomas Kurton, whose research leads him to announce the genotype for happiness.

Russell and Candace, now lovers, fail to protect Thassa from the growing media circus. Thassa's congenital optimism is soon severely tested. Devoured by the public as a living prophecy, her genetic secret will transform both Russell and Kurton, as well as the country at large.

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 finally 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An excellent introduction to Powers’s work, a lighter, leaner treatment of his favorite themes and techniques…An engaging storyteller…Even as he questions the conventions of narrative and character, Generosity gains in momentum and suspense.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Narrator david Pittou's easy, thoughtful voice is a pleasure to listen to. SoundCommentary.com

  • Part of this production's power is the performance by Pittou, slightly sardonic as Stone, French-accented as Thassa, comfortingly bland as Candace. It's a reading that doesn't get in the way of the prose, but offers its own enhancements to Powers' good writing. Providence Journal Bulletin

  • “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

  • “Powers fuses riveting narrative and spot-on dialogue with thought-provoking social analysis.”

    Newsday

  • “His cerebral new novel offers a chilling examination of the life we’re reengineering with our chromosomes and brain chemistry…Although you might expect a novel so weighted with medical and philosophical arguments to flatten its characters into brittle stereotypes, ultimately that’s the most impressive aspect of this meditation on happiness and humanness. As Generosity drives toward its surprising conclusion, these characters grow more complex and poignant, increasingly baffled by the challenge and the opportunity of remaking ourselves to our heart’s content.”

    Washington Post

  • “When written by Dostoevsky, Dickens, or Richard Powers at his best, one may feel that [the novel] can contain every facet of the world.”

    New York Review of Books

  • “One of our most exciting contemporary novelists.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “Part of this production’s power is the performance by Pittu, slightly sardonic as Stone, French-accented as Thassa, comfortingly bland as Candace. It’s a reading that doesn’t get in the way of the prose, but offers its own enhancements to Powers’ good writing.”

    Providence Journal Bulletin

  • One of the 2009 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • A 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gaile Wakeman | 2/18/2014

    " I liked this book very much and did not make any comments the first time I read it. this is my second time and I found it richer, more layered and insightful than I did the first time. The turn of phrase which Powers employs impresses me as it did in Echo Makers. The inclusion of myth references, some obvious, some more obscure, made it challenging. AS well, the use of "science" which was largely accurate and the roman a clef tactics enhanced the mystery. The omnnicient narrator is a technique I rather appreciate tho it is not universally admired. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn Crocker | 2/14/2014

    " A writing teacher, his class, a geneticist entrepreneur, a TV impressario and a therapist are all drawn into the magnetic field of a young Algerian refugee student with an extraordinary capacity for happiness. Even the narrator of the novel, making his fictional choices explicit, cannot resist the impulse to exploit her nature. This is a profound-- but entertaining-- meditation on our rapacious culture. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean Grant | 2/7/2014

    " Marvelous book! English teachers will likely love the description of Russell Stone's class and students. And the love affair between him and the psychologist Candace Weld is so nuanced and interesting. Stone is a character I'll remember for a long time to come, a bit like Annie Proulx's Quoyle, a man who is half-dead and awakens, a man who suffers and doesn't know how heroice he truly is. This is a 4-star and not a 5-star only because I couldn't bond with character Tonia Schiff and sometimes the happiness theory wasn't clear enough for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christian | 1/30/2014

    " I struggled with Echo Maker but have thought of it often. I wonder if the same will apply to this book? There is at least one amazing sentence per page but I wasn't pulled in. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aaron | 1/24/2014

    " you can read it fast and enjoy it and read it slow and...well I probably should read it again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caroline | 1/19/2014

    " I think I really loved this, apart from the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Red Fields | 1/16/2014

    " Thought provoking and entertaining. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lisa | 1/8/2014

    " Gave it 75 pages, and it's gone. I forgot that I didn't like Echo Maker either...guess I'm just not Richard Powers' target audience... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Laurel | 8/9/2013

    " I hate it when the book is highly recommended, and has rave reviews, and I don't get it at all. I was totally lost all the way through; kept hoping for enlightenment, but it never arrived. Maybe I needed a reader's guide... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Monica | 8/4/2013

    " I also attempted to read Operation Wandering Soul. I would call his writing Operation Excising Soul. Very good writer but too clever for me and lacking something human. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Adam | 7/30/2013

    " I love Richard Powers. As far as excitement in my life, his fiction is probably right behind roller coasters and the fact that I'm allowed to see my wife's cans pretty much anytime I want. This book though? Didn't love it. Didn't even like about half of it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Paula | 5/30/2013

    " So tedious, and the personifications were too much, as if the author were trying to impress someone on every page. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aunt Cardi | 4/30/2013

    " Fabulous - highly recommended! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stacey | 12/24/2012

    " Got it on audio book from library and disc 2 is too scratched to even play. booo. Got another copy on hold at a different library that I need to pick up soon... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Seamie | 12/20/2012

    " Powers explores some interesting ideas around the basis and meaning of happiness and the links between mood/personality and genetics, but doesn't go into quite enough depth. The archly knowing postmodern narration distracted and irritated, rather than adding anything to the experience. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 9/7/2012

    " This book is decent but was overrated by reviewers. The puzzling ending (attempted suicide and apparent web of deceit) of the supposedly perfectly scientifically-happy protagonist is intriguing. Still, I will revisit this author's other works as he so lyrically weaves science into the novel form. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leighana Thornton | 3/19/2012

    " The happiest woman in the world is hounded by the unhappy rest of the world. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ken McDouall | 1/13/2012

    " Powers again shapes fascinating subject matter into a brilliant story, this time a tale of human nature and the ambiguities of personality. Powers, a recent winner of the National Book Award, is certainly one of our best living novelists. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Alexander | 8/30/2011

    " This book was so deliberate. After every sentence I could just see the author sitting in his chair of academia, smirking to himself. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob Carlton | 5/25/2011

    " powers is a sublime writer - this fantasia takes the idea of a gene for happiness and spins the narrative and the reader into a novel that left me wanting to either reread it or -- better yet -- enter it's world. grab this book now ! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rcharbon | 5/15/2011

    " I wanted to give it a 4, and if I had stopped 2/3rds of the way through, I would have. Parts of this are stunning, but the whole was less than the sum of those parts. It appears that the author knew that and tried to cover it via some meta razzle-dazzle. That part also worked, but still...
    "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Alexander | 5/9/2011

    " This book was so deliberate. After every sentence I could just see the author sitting in his chair of academia, smirking to himself. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aurelie | 4/9/2011

    " Après un démarrage un peu long, l'histoire prend son envol entre science et humanité. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Art | 4/7/2011

    " A good-but-not-great book. Powers continues to blend science and story. This story, which focuses on the genetic basis of happiness, was a bit clunky. It is fairly clear what is happening from early on in the book. Still, there were lots of nice moments in the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leighana | 4/5/2011

    " The happiest woman in the world is hounded by the unhappy rest of the world. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Holly | 4/2/2011

    " What's difficult about reading Richard Powers is that anything you read after Richard Powers seems unintelligent. Generosity is my favorite of his yet although the echomaker is a close runner up. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Brittney | 2/10/2011

    " Booooooooooring. I couldn't finish it which is a bummer because I love optimism and was eager to get to know Thassa's character. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Waylajoy | 1/22/2011

    " The book brought up interesting questions about the nature of happiness, but I wasn't crazy about the structure. The way the author repeatedly inserted himself and called attention to the fictionality of the story was distracting and a little irritating to me. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Laura | 1/9/2011

    " I found myself not caring about any of the characters and really becoming annoyed with them. I didn't feel sorry for any of them and I didn't particularly want to find out what was going to happen to any of them. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 1/7/2011

    " I liked this book a lot, as I like almost everything Richard Powers has written. My one complaint was that I didn't care for the way in which he injected his voice in the narration; I felt that it was unnecessary distraction and interfered with the flow of the novel. "

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About the Author
Author Richard Powers

Richard Powers was born and raised in Battle Ground, Washington. He is an avid knitter and also enjoys biking, hunting, and cooking. He lives in Houston, Texas, with his family.

About the Narrator

David Pittu, a two-time Tony Award nominee, has narrated dozens of audiobooks, including Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which earned two prestigious Audie Awards for best narration. He has also won three Earphones Awards. Well-known for his work in theater, he has appeared off-Broadway in LoveMusik and Is He Dead, for which he received his Tony nominations, as well as Parade, for which he earned a National Broadway Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He is also a writer, member, and director of the Atlantic Theater company.