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Publisher's Summary

When 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.
©2009 Richard Powers (P)2009 Macmillan Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By James on 11-30-10

All About Fiction

Most reviewers discuss the science of this novel. But, for me, it's all about the fiction. The magic of fiction, resulting from our willing suspension of disbelief, is that we read (or listen to) a novel as if it were a book of non-fiction about actual people confronting real events. But what if the narrator of a novel claims to be its author and comments, from time to time, on the process of his creation of the very fictional characters and plot? And what if that plot forces its characters, most of them student-writers of non-fiction that they sometimes make up, to wonder if they or their DNA or science or the media have created them? (It never occurs to them that they are characters in a novel.) Then we have a maze of a book--another amazing Richard Powers novel both intellectually provocative and aesthetically satisfying. What Powers also does so marvelously well here is to invent Thassadit Amzwar (nickname: Generosity) who makes us feel so good, we need her to be real. But whether she is or not, there is more truth in this Richard Powers novel than in a month of cable news.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Frank on 01-03-10

if you liked this one ....

you should try "echomaker" by the same author. shame that they don't offer it's his best work if you ask me. but of course generosity is very good, too.
peter germany

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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