“Both Echo Maker and Bewilderment have strong ties to the ethos of a state where our present and our future are being hashed out and fought for. The vision of a healthier, a more rewarding, a more meaningful relationship to place and other creatures is very much central to Wisconsin politics, and that’s why I wanted Madison as the setting for my novel.”
For today’s show, Friday host Esty Dinur spends the hour with Richard Powers, the Pulitzer Prize–winning and #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Overstory and Bewilderment, which is set in Madison.
From Esty’s review in the Isthmus newsletter: “Bewilderment is not Richard Powers best novel—that honor is reserved for his masterpiece, The Overstory. Still, shorter and therefore an easier read, this excellent book speaks directly to the times we live in, in a million different ways. It tells about a scientist father and his autistic (or is he?) son, about the mysteries of space and advances in science, a president very reminiscent of a recent monstrosity, a dying planet, and personal loss. Special bonus: it happens mostly in Madison and at the UW. It left me in admiration of Powers and fear for our present and future.”
Richard Powers is an American novelist. His novels The Echo Maker won the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction, The Overstory won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2019, and Bewilderment won the Booker Prize in 2021. He currently lives in Tennessee near the Great Smoky Mountains.