Generosity: An Enhancement

Generosity: An Enhancement

Richard Powers / Dec 16, 2019


  • Title: Generosity: An Enhancement
  • Author: Richard Powers
  • ISBN: 9780374161149
  • Page: 261
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 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 melancholicFROM 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.

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      Published :2019-09-05T07:55:56+00:00

    About "Richard Powers"

      • Richard Powers

        Richard Powers is the author of eleven novels He has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the Lannan Literary Award, two Pushcart Prizes, and the National Book Award.Librarian note There is than one author with this name in the database.


    1. Picked this up in the airport bookstore, and on the plane recalled that I DO like reading! So yeah, Pregnant Widow? Gate at the Stairs? That newish McEwan? I was beginning to think it was me, but it's not. It's just them, actually. I can still enjoy books. (Whew.)It would be unconscionably perverse for me to waste any further limited precious moments of my too-short life on Solar, when I could be reading this awesome book instead. Sense of duty to finish, you are neatly dispatched! Thanks, Mr. P [...]

    2. So, this is pretty fuggin' fantastic. My first Powers--I've always resisted, thinking of him as literature's Bill Nye the Science Guy or something. And maybe he is. And maybe that's not such a bad thing.Some might complain that there's too much stuff packed into this novel's relatively slim, 295-page frame. We've got five (or six) major characters. There's Russell, the depressive writer/editor/teacher; Candace, the therapist and Russell's love interest; Thassa, the young Algerian woman in Russel [...]

    3. This book could have been a big hit for me if I had not first read Eric Weiner's 2008 book, The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World. That and this book both floated the idea that there is the so-called "happiness gene" in our DNA make up in the same fashion that there said to be a homosexual gene, a cancer gene and other anomalies that found to have been probably caused by gene abnormalities.It tells the story of a young Algerian woman Thassadit "Thassa" A [...]

    4. Behind every book that I have read so far from Powers there’s a current scientific or existential debate (sometimes also several ones). And that is also the case here. The story takes place in Chicago and revolves around a 23-year-old Algerian migrant, Thassa, who seems to be in a permanent state of happiness and ignites everyone with it. Russell, a failed writer with lots of personal issues, gives evening lessons “creative non-fiction writing” and has her as one of his students. He immedi [...]

    5. I need to put some serious thought into this review - there's about 100 strands of plot, character and theme that I'd like to touch on. But right now, I can't do that - so suffice it to say, this book is fabulous. Don't be scared of it - even though it takes on some pretty weighty issues - freewill v. biological determinism; positive psychology and social cognition biases; and the absolutely fascinating, speculative fictional premise of what and how people would respond to a person who was genet [...]

    6. This is probably the most accessible of his books that I've read, not overly technical but certainly not patronizing. But for those who appreciate Powers' tendency towards erudite digressions on any imaginable high-brow subject, you may feel that this book is somewhat lacking in that department; it even reads at times like he is making a deliberate effort to rein himself in and to focus on the momentum of the plot. This is interesting because one strand of the plot is a sort of meta-narrative on [...]

    7. The secret of happiness is to be born happy (i.e. right genes). With genetic engineering this can be made to order. This gives a new dimension to our God given right of the "pursuit of happiness." This novel is structured to examine this prospective future from multiple perspectives.This novel explores what and how people would respond to a person who was genetically predisposed to having an off-the-charts level of extreme well-being. The book examines the pursuit of happiness using genetic engi [...]

    8. I think I enjoyed this one more than the two other Powers novels I've read, though I can't say if that's because it's a better book or because I've adapted to him as a reader. In the past I think I've found his novels sort of puzzling: the world and the nexus of problems that he brings up is in some ways too complete in and of itself somehow? This seems a strange thing to say, especially since I think it was a failure of me as a reader: I was expecting a novel that seemed more conventional, and [...]

    9. Russell Stone is a washed-up writer making ends meet by teaching a ‘Journal and Journey’ class to a group of art students at a Chicago college. One member of that group stands out because of her remarkable personality: Thassadit Amzwar is a young woman from Algeria who is apparently happy all the time; nothing seems to bother her, and people are naturally attracted to her sunny disposition. Even after everything she has experienced in her life, Thassa remains in perpetual good humour; Russel [...]

    10. Richard Powers is one of my favorite writers. Generosity is not my favorite of his books, but I almost feel like I will have to reread it again in a few months in order to review it appropriately. The book jacket says this book is about the search for a gene that determines happiness and a woman who is the happiest person in the world. And, yes, that's the plot, more or less. I would say the book is about how we live now, about how we measure our purpose and existence. If you're interested in th [...]

    11. A young girl strikes a big American city like a meteorite. She fled a civil war and, via Paris and Montreal, disembarks in the metropolis. Her radiance and appetite for life transfixes those who have the privilege of orbiting around her. The circumstances remind us of the real-world work of epidemiologist Aaron Antonovsky who, in the 1960s and 70s was struck in his research by how certain women who had survived the Holocaust were able to sustain a rich and positive outlook on life. Antonovsky re [...]

    12. Total brain food about creation, whether it be scientific or artistic. Intelligent writing, captivating, worth reading at least a couple more times. The book is a beautifully composed snapshot of today's culture and the fascination and controversy over the use of genetic discoveries. (A high school knowledge of biology is helpful but not required.) As much about the creation of art as it is about human manipulation of creation, the structure alone is worth the read, especially for a would-be aut [...]

    13. uno scrittore in crisi, una classe di "non fiction" e una giovane profuga algerina che sembra essere sempre radiosa e felice. e ancora: genetica, televisione, potere delle masse, una psicologa confusa, meccanismi sociali impazziti, dubbi etici. secondo me powers è uno dei più grandi scrittori contemporanei- ma questo romanzo non mi ha convinta fino in fondo. certo, la storia è interessante ma ho trovato la narrazione (a volte) inutilmente labirintica- al contrario di altri suoi romanzi altret [...]

    14. from the Powells book review: The story postulates the existence of a "happiness gene" that would enhance the whole species. Thassa Amzwar, improbably happy despite her suffering, might be the donor who will usher in the "age of molecular control." Yet the novel's affect, first to last, isn't admonitory so much as amazed, a word half-buried in Amzwar's name. Generosity may be jam-packed, but it's genius: It soars, it boggles.

    15. Powers never fails to engage me intellectually and emotionally. I have read all those reviews which criticize or dismiss him, and I understand their objections, but I cannot share them. I have read Generosity more often than any of his other novels (except the first one I ever read, and still my favourite, The Gold Bug Variations), and still I see intricate layers of foreshadowing and character development that I have previously missed. I read too fast. This is undeniable. But it does cater to r [...]

    16. Is trans-humanism the road to perfect happiness ? Or turn it around: is perfect happiness the ultimate goal of mankind ? Those are the main questions Richard Powers addresses in this great novel. And to make things more complex he adds several layers to the story: what is the role of he public media in achieving happiness ? And another layer: is thankfulness for Life the same as happiness ? And another layer: is the author of this story a trans-human mind ?I like the book very much and I appreci [...]

    17. Wow! What a great book this was. So well written. Some of it was a little beyond me. I'm not entirely sure even now who the narrator was. But that's not the authors fault.A beautifully written book about genomes.

    18. Imagine that a rare individual suddenly appears on the scene -- a person who, despite having experienced horrific events while growing up in war-torn Algeria, nevertheless projects a constant and contagious glow that seems utterly unshakable by anything that the world currently has on offer. What could be the source of her remarkable buoyancy? Might she be harboring some kind of "happiness gene"? And if a genomic research company were to pin it down, would the company then own the rights to her [...]

    19. Actually, Generosity: An Enhancement could probably be more accurately classified as "fiction about scienced fiction." That's Richard Powers' shtick: He has a unique gift for giving readers multiple entry points to his novels; fusing real science with literary themes into tightly constructed novels of ideas.And Generosity: An Enhancement illustrates that gift nicely. If you're interested in genetics (or genometics, as it's now more accurately called, apparently), then this novel is right in your [...]

    20. Human Nature Many reviewers are taken with the topicality of Power's books - his interest in science and music, his command of detail, his obvious research and intellect, his clever writing. My belief is that Powers is a master of trying to unravel human nature and that his novels are his canvas for this.The story of Generosity is this - a nerdy writer takes a college class in creative non-fiction and meets two unusual women. His student, an Algerian refugee seems afflicted by permanent happines [...]

    21. Em "Generosidade" ficamos a conhecer Russel Stone, autor frustrado de não ficção que conhece Thassadit Amzwar, aluna da sua cadeira de Escrita Criativa que irradia felicidade. Esta inabalável e constante felicidade de Tassa, apesar de todas as atrocidades da sua vida intrigam Russel e levam-no a questionar-se sobre o como e o porquê dessa tal alegria e como a poderá proteger do mundo. Essas questões levam-no a Candace Weld, psicóloga, que o faz lembrar uma antiga paixão não confessada, [...]

    22. Please don't let the fact that this book took me a while to finish as a reflection of how good it is. I am certain that if I didn't have work to do, a show to rehearse for, and video games to distract me that I could have cranked through this novel in one day. It goes that quickly. It is, in fact, possibly the most accessible of Powers' novels. One can almost imagine him having a conversation with his publishers in which they remind him that he just won a National Book Award: "Better tone it dow [...]

    23. I really want to like Powers, but just about every book winds up falling flat for me. As far as I recall, The Time of our Singing is the only one (of the half dozen or so that I've read) that really knocked my socks off, and the rest have been sort of a bad mashup of mediocre genre fiction and attempted (failed) literary fiction -- and have disappointed at both ends. Generosity read to me like something written by an alien who had access to Earth's culture, science, technology, and social intera [...]

    24. I wanted to adore this book so desperately that I read a few sections more than once, waiting for the themes (positive psychology; the human genome a la Craig Venter; an Algerian war refugee: so alluring on their own!) to solidify into one self-reinforcing text. Instead, I found myself increasingly cynical about the existential narrator and plot that solves its own problems. Powers sets up the nature vs. nurture debate only to walk you through the monologue of objections you may have experienced [...]

    25. This is the third book I've read by Richard Powers, and it's hard for me to know exactly what I think of his work. His characters and world often seem a bit distant, as if we're watching them move around in some other world, far removed from ours. Partly to blame for this is Powers' habit of referencing everything under the sun in a way that is often interesting but also threatens to distract the reader, and sometimes hovers on egotism run amok: one feels that Powers' characters are in constant [...]

    26. Generosity: for a book with such a title there is awful little joy. Even the person with the extraordinary genes isn't in my opinion a really happy person. But maybe that's just the point Powers wants te make: that the existence of happiness genes is a non issue.The structure of the book, takes some accustoming to but once your used to it, it's quite readable.I hated the narrator though: I don't especially like the writer of a book to be so present in the story.The end is abrupt and unsatisfying [...]

    27. Is happiness an act of will, learned behavior from your upbringing, or is happiness in your genetic make-up? Thassadit Amzwar, nicknamed Miss Generosity by Russell Stone's Creative Non Fiction night class is seemingly always happy and positive. When Stone find out from her essays about her horrific experiences in strife torn Algeria, he wonders if her happiness is a sign of something wrong with her and asks for advice from a counselor colleague.A geneticist, meanwhile can foresee a future where [...]

    28. At the beginning I was really impressed by this book--mainly by the author's style, but also by the story and the main issue that he took up, genetic engineering. But for whatever reason, I did not enjoy the last half of the book nearly as much as the first half.Although there were many interesting statements made throughout the book, the only one I will cite here is this one: “Joy does little to increase one’s judgment. Happiness is not the condition you want to be in when you need to be at [...]

    29. I wanted to like this book more than I did. The characters were right on the verge of being sympathetic and interesting. The scientific and philosophical discussions were interesting but not quite compelling. I enjoyed the author intruding into the story line but it seemed a bit inconsistent. Still, it was worth the time spent.

    30. At long last finished. Powers' writing as always was flawless yet like the narrator of this story I remained a distant observer intrigued by the characters and story at time but never fully engaged.

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