The Time of Our Singing

The Time of Our Singing Cover

The Time of Our Singing

By Richard Powers

Picador USA, Paperback, 9780312422189, 640pp.

Publication Date: January 1, 2004


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 emigre 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 the Author
Richard Powers has been the recipient of a Lannan Literary Award and a MacArthur Fellowship. He is the author of several novels, including Plowing the Dark, Gain, and Galatea 2.2. He lives in Illinois.

Praise For The Time of Our Singing

"A great hurtle of a book, telling several powerful stories at once...An astonishing performance. . . a prodigious, illuminating and exhilarating run." --The New York Times

"Ingenious...A heady, panoramic novel, scored, like so much of Powers's work, for full orchestra. . .One of our most lavishly gifted writers." --The New Yorker

"One of the best novels ever written about race in of the best written about the joys of music. . .A major novel, harrowing and haunting in blending such intense beauty and such great sorrow into one great, unforgettable American symphony." --Newsday

"A bold and vibrant set of variations on the themes of music, race and time. . . It is hard to think of another novel since Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus that uses music so effectively and with such authority." --Chicago Tribune

"The Time of Our Singing is an astonishment but not a surprise...Richard Powers has been astounding us almost every other year since 1985...We can no longer be surprised about whatever he dares to think in ink about." --Harper's Magazine

"With his characteristic mastery of structure and language, Powers has orchestrated a story that. . .plays with bravura to the end." --People

"This is a novel God might relish and call enriching. Powers' heart-cry should win big prizes." --The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Richard Powers is a wonder. . .[The Time of Our Singing] is beautifully, meticulously crafted." --The New York Observer