Orfeo is reviewed in Deccan Herald by Sundarshan Purohit, “A Life in Music,” February 1, 2015.

Orfeo is a powerful, intricate story that plays out entirely through the mind of its lead character. As much as the story itself, the language and the vocabulary give it its distinctive flavour.


Orfeo is cited in Nicholas Dames’s article on music and fiction in The New Yorker, January 27, 2015.

The protagonist of Richard Powers’s 2014 novel, “Orfeo,” is a composer named Peter Els who, late in life, begins to dabble in biotechnology. Els’s attempts to “compose” in DNA turn him into a suspected bioterrorist fleeing across the country; one of his furtive stops is Champaign, Illinois, where he attended graduate school. In a coffee shop that he remembers from his student days, Els recognizes Steve Reich’s 1995 “Proverb” coming from the speakers. In the bravura passage that follows, Powers describes the way that Els listens to the music:



ΦBK, the national academic honor society, has named Orfeo as one of its Top 14 Books of 2014.

Readers with in-depth knowledge of music theory and history, as well as those with only a casual interest, will surely find much to admire about this novel. In Orfeo, Powers has created a work that functions as a testament to the beauty and power of great fiction as well as great music.