Author: Richard Powers
Publisher: Hutchinson Heinemann
Genre: Literary Fiction
A novel about the environment, the climate change crisis, but more than anything a novel about a father and his relationship with his neurodivergent son, as the world tumbles and continues to spin.
Bewilderment is fascinating, it is revelatory, it shows what we have done to ourselves as a race, and how perhaps there still might be hope for all of us, if only we are willing to see and make those changes.
Both father and son, Theo and Robin are mourning the death of Alys, the wife and the mother, an environmental activist more than anything else.
The book is about the predicament of the world, of how leaders and people with power are oblivious to the change in climate and its consequences thereof. It is about mass extinction, about the generation that has been forced to grow up in such circumstances, and whether or not there is a future for them.
Bewilderment also speaks of life on distant planets and does it very intelligently. The expanse of the novel is huge, as it was in The Overstory, though at times the book does seem disjointed in places. I let it go because of the writing. Powers is a writer that is so capable of looking at America inside-out and then to place it in the larger scheme of things, which this novel does most fantastically.
The writing paints a picture of where we are today, where we perhaps could be, and what we have done so far. A book so rooted in loss clearly needs hope which Powers speaks about eloquently and with a lot of grace. The book broke me in places, even devastated me with its grief – loss that is personal and a loss that concerns the entire humankind. Most certainly, this book is in the running for the Booker this year. It is on my top 2 list for sure.