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Pulitzer Prize Winner Richard Powers On His New Novel, 'Bewilderment'

Bewilderment is Powers' thirteenth novel.
Bewilderment is Powers' thirteenth novel.

In “The Overstory,” novelist Richard Powers told an engrossing, multigenerational tale of the relationship between humans and trees. The latter protects the former, but only a few of the former protect the latter.

The book, Powers’ twelfth novel, earned him literary fame and a Pulitzer Prize. But he told The New York Times that after the success of “The Overstory,” he considered retiring from writing novels. The response to the book was overwhelming and draining…

“I was thinking, maybe this is it, maybe I’ve earned the right to just enjoy the woods. Why do we have this idea that artists have to keep going?” he said. “The problem is, I wrote a book that asked a very hard question, which is, why are we so lost and how can we possibly get back? I thought, now you’ve asked the question, why not write a story about what that change would look like?”

Powers returns now with “Bewilderment,” his next novel. It tells the story of a young boy and his father who are both dismayed at the state of the world. A Trumpian president is claiming election fraud, wild species are disappearing at an alarming rate, and extreme weather events are worsening. To escape, the two explore imaginary planets together in their minds.

“Bewilderment” by… by wamu885

Excerpted from Bewilderment: A Novel. Copyright (c) 2021 by Richard Powers. Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Like “The Overstory,” “Bewilderment” is not just a work of fiction but also a commentary on humans’ relationship with the Earth and other species. It was named to the Booker Prize shortlist and the National Book Awards longlist.

Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5

Avery Kleinman