‘Bewilderment’ Explores Resplendence of the Cosmos and a Child’s Mind

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Richard Powers' new book is 'Bewilderment.' (Photo of Richard Powers by Dean Dixon. Cover by W.W. Norton and Co.)

"Life is something we need to stop correcting." That's what Theo, the single astrobiologist father who narrates Richard Powers's latest novel, thinks when doctors try to prescribe medication for Robin, his passionately curious and emotionally volatile young son. But as Robin continues to lash out, Theo enrolls him in an experimental brain therapy that expands his empathic abilities and sharpens his scientific gifts. The novel, informed in part by the classic story "Flowers for Algernon," explores what Powers calls the bafflement of empathy -- whether we would have to give up being ourselves in order to understand someone who isn't us." We talk with Powers about "Bewilderment."


Richard Powers, author, "Bewilderment" and "The Overstory"