The Echo Maker

By Richard Powers
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374146351, 464pp.)

Publication Date: October 17, 2006

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback, Paperback, Paperback

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On a winter night on a remote Nebraska road, 27-year-old Mark Schluter flips his truck in a near-fatal accident. His older sister Karin, his only near kin, returns reluctantly to their hometown to nurse Mark back from a traumatic head injury. But when he emerges from a protracted coma, Mark believes that this woman–who looks, acts, and sounds just like his sister–is really an identical impostor. Shattered by her brother’s refusal to recognize her, Karin contacts the cognitive neurologist Gerald Weber, famous for his case histories describing the infinitely bizarre worlds of brain disorder. Weber recognizes Mark as a rare case of Capgras Syndrome, a doubling delusion, and eagerly investigates. What he discovers in Mark slowly undermines even his own sense of being. Meanwhile, Mark, armed only with a note left by an anonymous witness, attempts to learn what happened the night of his inexplicable accident. The truth of that evening will change the lives of all three beyond recognition.  Set against the Platte River’s massive spring migrations–one of the greatest spectacles in nature–The Echo Maker is a gripping mystery that explores the improvised human self and the even more precarious brain that splits us from and joins us to the rest of creation. The Echo Maker is the winner of the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction.

About the Author

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.

Conversation Starters from


  1. What echoes do the cranes create throughout the novel? What do the cranes signify to those who admire them—tourists, environmentalists, local residents along the Platte River? What parallels exist between the echo of the migrating birds and the echoes lurking in Mark's shattered memory?

Praise For The Echo Maker

Praise for Richard Powers:

"Powers may be America's most ambitious novelist." --Kevin Berger, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

"To read his work is to be wowed by his verbal muscularity. . .admirable. . .wonderfully original." --Meg Wolitzer, The New York Times Book Review

"Richard Powers is the child prodigy of American fiction . . . by 34 he had published three novels equaling the intellectual rigor and range of that '60s prodigy, Thomas Pynchon." --Tom LeClair, USA Today

"One of our few indispensable literary talents." --Charles B. Harris, Review of Contemporary Fiction

"Powers may be the smartest novelist writing today." --Albert Mobilio, The Village

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