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Seventy-year old avant-garde composer Peter Els opens the door one evening to find the police outside. His DIY microbiology lab - the latest experiment in his lifelong attempt to extract music from rich patterns beyond the ear's ability to hear - has come to the attention of Homeland Security. Panicked by the raid on his house, Els flees and turns fugitive, waiting for the evidence to clear him and for the alarm surrounding his activities to blow over. But alarm turns to national hysteria, as the government promises a panicked nation that the 'Bioterrorist Bach' will be found and brought to trial. As Els feels the noose around him tighten, he embarks on a cross-country trip to visit, one last time, the people in his past who have most shaped his failed musical journey. And through the help of these people - his ex-wife, his daughter, and his longtime artistic collaborator - Els comes up with a plan to turn this disastrous collision with national security into one last, resonant, calamitous artwork that might reach an audience beyond his wildest dreams.
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A major and thrilling new novel that explores private fears, public hysteria and the art of music, by one of America's most important living writers

About the Author

Richard Powers has been a recipient of a Lannan Literary Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, as well as a winner of the US National Book Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is the author of eight novels, including The Time of our Singing, Plowing the Dark, and Gain. He lives in Los Angeles.


A magnificent and moving novel * Los Angeles Times * Powers is prodigiously talented. Besides being fearfully erudite, he writes lyrical prose, has a seductive sense of wonder and is an acute observer of social life... I [picked] it up eagerly each day and [found] myself moist-eyed when I came to its last pages * New York Times * Extraordinary... His evocations of music, let alone lost love, simply soar off the page... Once again, Richard Powers proves himself to be one of our finest novelists * Newsday * Powers proves, once again, that he's a master of the novel with Orfeo, an engrossing and expansive read that is just as much a profile of a creative, obsessive man as it is an escape narrative * Esquire * A first-class American road novel... Orfeo is about one about a man on the lam remembering where he's come from and how, incredibly, he's arrived - and us with him - at today's here and now * Slate *

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