MacArthur Fellows Program

Richard Powers

Novelist | Class of 1989

Heerlen, Netherlands
32 at time of award
Published August 1, 1989

About Richard's Work

Richard Powers is a writer of ambitious, intellectually rigorous novels that deal with subjects ranging from the history of the World War I era to cognitive neuroscience.

His first book, Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance (1985), is a novel about the twentieth century which has as its point of departure a 1913 photograph by August Sander.  The plots of his subsequent novels have involved such disparate characters as a biologist conducting genetic research during the 1950s, a midwestern homemaker whose life is irrevocably changed by a powerful corporation, and a humanist who collaborates with a neurologist on a project to build a computer model of the human brain.  In addition to his first book, Powers is the author of Prisoner’s Dilemma (1988), The Gold Bug Variations (1991), Operation Wandering Soul (1993), Galatea 2.2 (1995), Gain (1998), Plowing the Dark (2000), and The Time of Our Singing (2003).  His writing has appeared in such publications as Harper's, the New Yorker, and the Yale Review.


Powers is the Swanlund Professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a professor at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

Powers received a B.A. (1978) and an M.A. (1980) from the University of Illinois.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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