Toronto’s newspaper The Star listed Orfeo among the “Things that thrill us in 2014.” (January 1, 2014)

“With Homeland’s TV success and ongoing news stories about privacy and security breaches, there couldn’t be better timing for Orfeo, the new intrigue from National Book Award winner Richard Powers.

Due out Jan. 21, it begins with avant-garde composer Peter Els learning his microbiology lab has come to the attention of Homeland Security. He is forced into hiding until his name can be cleared.

Sound familiar? Sounds fascinating.”



Orfeo in the top ten list of books published in January 2014 that librarians across the country love,  LibraryReads, January 2014.

“Experimental music and genetic engineering? Heady stuff indeed, but what is most remarkable about this thought-provoking journey is how intensely it makes you feel about human creativity, experience, and the enigmatic fugitive Peter Els, whose flight from an uncomprehending world anchors the narrative. A perfect introduction to this brilliant but sometimes forbidding author.”—David Wright, Seattle Public Library, Seattle, WA

Orfeo is one of the titles recommended in “Doctorow, Rowling, Murakami, and More: Books to Read in 2014,” in The Atlantic, December 30, 2013.

When 70-year-old Peter Els’s dog dies, 911 responders arrive at his home and discover a room converted into an amateur biochemical engineering lab. Orfeo, National Book Award winner Powers’s novel inspired by the Greek myth of Orpheus, follows Els, a onetime adjunct professor, as he flees from the ensuing federal investigation and along the way visits his estranged family members; in flashbacks, Powers tells the story of a man so entranced by the act of creation—first of music, then of biochemical processes—that it has isolated him from much of the world.

Orfeo makes the list in “Turning the page: the year ahead in books: Irish writers, including a plethora of debut novelists, feature prominently in 2014’s literary line-up,” Irish Times, December 28, 2013.

orfeo3DRichard Powers’s new novel is slated for publication in January 2014.

The National Book Award–winning author of The Echo Maker delivers his most emotionally charged novel to date, inspired by the myth of Orpheus.  “If Powers were an American writer of the nineteenth century…he’d probably be the Herman Melville of Moby-Dick. His picture is that big,” wrote Margaret Atwood (New York Review of Books). Indeed, since his debut in 1985 with Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance, Richard Powers has been astonishing readers with novels that are sweeping in range, dazzling in technique, and rich in their explorations of music, art, literature, and technology.

In Orfeo, Powers tells the story of a man journeying into his past as he desperately flees the present. Composer Peter Els opens the door one evening to find the police on his doorstep. His home microbiology lab—the latest experiment in his lifelong attempt to find music in surprising patterns—has aroused the suspicions of Homeland Security. Panicked by the raid, Els turns fugitive. As an Internet-fueled hysteria erupts, Els—the “Bioterrorist Bach”—pays a final visit to the people he loves, those who shaped his musical journey. Through the help of his ex-wife, his daughter, and his longtime collaborator, Els hatches a plan to turn this disastrous collision with the security state into a work of art that will reawaken its audience to the sounds all around them. The result is a novel that soars in spirit and language by a writer who “may be America’s most ambitious novelist” (Kevin Berger, San Francisco Chronicle).

Powers’s talent for translating avant-garde music into engrossing vignettes on the page is inexhaustible. Els’s obsession with avant-garde, which isolates him from everyone he loves, becomes the very thing that aligns him with the reader.”
Publishers Weekly, boxed, starred review

“Powers has a way of rendering the world that makes it seem familiar and alien, friendly and frightening… the effect is heartbreaking and beautiful.”
Booklist, boxed, starred review

“The earmarks of the renowned novelist’s work are here… but rarely have his novels been so tightly focused and emotionally compelling.”
Kirkus, starred review