Farrar, Straus and Giroux
On Sale: September 29, 2009
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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 GENEWhen 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.
Studio 360 - October 24, 2009
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