Wonderful? A tour de force? Relentless? Inspiring?

You go ahead and choose. If you’ve read Richard Powers’ “Bewilderment” you probably have some other words you’d like to add to the list of superlatives above.

Beyond the narrative and how erudite and moving it is, how engrossing the story is, the thing that strikes me most about “Bewilderment” is the sheer craft on display as Powers is able to focus on just two characters to produce pretty much an entire novel based around their interactions. And the fact that one of those two happens to be a nine-year-old boy…

It’s a tremendous achievement.

There are themes “Bewilderment” shares with “The Overstory” too: the magnificence of nature / the cosmos; the scale of a single person against that vast canvas; the relationship between the two. Often the humans come across as loners, outsiders wanting ‘in’, wanting to save the trees / the animals; humans who know there is a better way, but are thwarted and outgunned by either power or money, or the power of money.

In a way I think these two books may be modern fables – but first and foremost, “Bewilderment” is stunning. You should read it.

Reading list