Usually most of the authors I write about during book fair time are writers with whom I am familiar. This year is no different - I've read Barbara Kingsolver and Margaret Atwood forever, it seems. But there is one novelist the fair has helped me discover: Richard Powers.
Powers won a National Book Award for The Echo Maker a few years ago, and while the book has been sitting on my shelf since then I hadn't picked it up until I saw that Powers would be one of the fair's "Evening With...' authors. And so I read it. Wow. Then I read his latest novel, Generosity: An Enhancement, and liked it even more. Powers is one of those rare writers who can take the big concept - in Generosity, the simple question "What would happen if scientists discovered a happiness gene?" - and apply it to who we are as a country, a culture, a people. He's also a terrific storyteller, able to meld intriguing characters with scientific questions that get to the heart of who we are.
I'll be writing more about Powers, who is an incredibly interesting guy. But just a heads up: If you are a fan of intelligent, big-picture novels, you are going to want to check him out. You can see him at the fair at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Chapman; tickets $10 and downloadable here.