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Richard Powers

Novelist Richard Powers gets personal with this lecture that recalls how his life experiences have shaped him as a writer.

In this episode of The Archive Project, we feature the novelist, Richard Powers. Powers is a writer whose work is difficult to define. It is literary fiction based in a kind of realism, but with elements of science fiction, fantasy, and highly original structural elements that keep readers a little off balance.

Powers won the National Book Award in 2006 for The Echo Maker. He is perhaps best known for his magisterial, Pulitzer Prize-winning and internationally best-selling 2019 novel, The Overstory. He joined us this year to also talk about his most recent book Bewilderment, which was published in fall 2021.

In his talked called, Easy Travel to Other Planets, which Powers describes as a kind of mini-autobiography, he recalls the facts and circumstances of his childhood, but also the life of his imagination as he grew up. The talk dives right to the heart of Powers’ craft, the mysterious origins of stories, including how Powers was shaped as an artist by watching the moon landing at the age of five.

After the live lecture, some audience members described it as one of the best Portland Arts & Lectures evenings they have ever attended. This is high praise for a series that’s been presenting for 38 years.

“More than any commodity that we humans chase after… we want meaning. Without meaning, all the rest is like drinking salt water: It just makes us thirstier. Something in us is desperate for connection to something out there. An adventure beyond ourselves.”


Richard Powers is the author of thirteen novels, including The Overstory, which won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and spent over one year on the New York Times bestseller list. He is a MacArthur Fellow and received the National Book Award in 2006 for his novel The Echo Maker. Powers has taught at the University of Illinois and Stanford University. He lives in the Great Smoky Mountains.

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