The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers

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Synopsis

A magnificent, multifaceted novel about a supremely gifted -- and divided -- family, set against the backdrop of postwar America

On Easter day, 1939, at Marian Anderson's epochal concert on the Washington Mall, David Strom, a German Jewish émigré scientist, meets Delia Daley, a young Philadelphia Negro studying to be a singer. Their mutual love of music draws them together, and--against all odds and better judgment--they marry. They vow to raise their children beyond time, beyond identity, steeped in song. But their three children must survive America's brutal here and now. Jonah, Joseph, and Ruth grow up during the Civil Rights era, come of age in the violent 1960s, and live out adulthood in the racially retrenched late century. Jonah, the eldest, "whose voice could make heads of state repent," follows a life in his parents' beloved classical music. Ruth, the youngest, chooses a militant activism and repudiates the white culture her brother represents. Joseph, the middle child and the narrator of this generational tale, struggles to remain connected to them both.

The Time of Our Singing is a story of self-invention, allegiance, race, cultural ownership, the compromised power of music, and the tangled loops of time that rewrite all belonging.

 

About Richard Powers

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Richard Powers is the author of eight previous novels that have received numerous honors including a MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, and the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Historical Fiction.
 
Published January 1, 2004 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 642 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Time of Our Singing

Kirkus Reviews

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The power of music in its relation to a racially divided family and culture is dramatized with unprecedented brilliance in this panoramic novel: the eighth from the protean author of, most recently, Plowing the Dark (2000).

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Time of Our Singing

The Guardian

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The Time of Our Singing, by Richard Powers (Vintage, £7.99) My, they don't give up, do they, those people trying to write the Great American Novel.

Feb 07 2004 | Read Full Review of The Time of Our Singing

The Guardian

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The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers 631pp, Heinemann, £14.99 There is no other contemporary American writer quite like Richard Powers.

Mar 29 2003 | Read Full Review of The Time of Our Singing

Star Tribune

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Review: With an epic sweep, Powers tells the story of race in America through one culturally mixed music-loving family.

Jan 25 2003 | Read Full Review of The Time of Our Singing

Book Reporter

Readers of Richard Powers's breakout novel, THE GOLD BUG VARIATIONS, already know that no one in contemporary letters writes about music or science with the depth of feeling or grace of metaphor that Powers brings to the subjects.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Time of Our Singing

Entertainment Weekly

In comparison, The Time of Our Singing – which takes its cues merely from half a century of American race relations, a millennium of musicology, and the general theory of relativity – is a breeze, albeit a slightly cool one.

Jan 24 2003 | Read Full Review of The Time of Our Singing

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