From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Overstory, an emotionally charged novel inspired by the myth of Orpheus.
"Bravo, Richard Powers, for hitting so many high notes with Orfeo and contributing to the fraction of books that really matter." —Heller McAlpin, NPR
In Orfeo, 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 and hatches a plan to transform this disastrous collision with the security state into an unforgettable work of art that will reawaken its audience to the sounds all around it.
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Orfeo finds acclaimed novelist Richard Powers—a cellist who studied physics at university—combining two of his major interests: music and science. Inspired by the real-life case of an artist suspected of bioterrorism, Orfeo is the story of Peter Els, a 70-year-old avant-garde composer who runs from the authorities when they discover his home laboratory and prized 16th-century print of Arabic music. Expertly splicing the novel into two equally riveting narrative threads—Els as he flees and Els in his idealistic past—Powers crafts a novel that’s simultaneously sophisticated and entertaining, with writing both heady and heartfelt.