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Playground: A Novel (Hardcover)

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A magisterial new novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning and New York Times best-selling author of The Overstory and Bewilderment.

Four lives are drawn together in a sweeping, panoramic new novel from Richard Powers, showcasing the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Overstory at the height of his skills. Twelve-year-old Evie Beaulieu sinks to the bottom of a swimming pool in Montreal strapped to one of the world’s first aqualungs. Ina Aroita grows up on naval bases across the Pacific with art as her only home. Two polar opposites at an elite Chicago high school bond over a three-thousand-year-old board game; Rafi Young will get lost in literature, while Todd Keane’s work will lead to a startling AI breakthrough.

They meet on the history-scarred island of Makatea in French Polynesia, whose deposits of phosphorus once helped to feed the world. Now the tiny atoll has been chosen for humanity’s next adventure: a plan to send floating, autonomous cities out onto the open sea. But first, the island’s residents must vote to greenlight the project or turn the seasteaders away.

Set in the world’s largest ocean, this awe-filled book explores that last wild place we have yet to colonize in a still-unfolding oceanic game, and interweaves beautiful writing, rich characterization, profound themes of technology and the environment, and a deep exploration of our shared humanity in a way only Richard Powers can.

About the Author

Richard Powers is the author of fourteen novels, including The Overstory, Bewilderment, and Orfeo. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Award. He lives in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Praise For…

Compelling, with fine writing on friendship and its loss and on the awe and delight the ocean inspires.... An engaging, eloquent message for this fragile planet.
— Kirkus Reviews, starred review

An epic drama of AI, neocolonialism, and oceanography ... dazzling. ... [T]he elegance of [Powers’s] prose, the scope of his ambition, and the exacting reverence with which he writes about the imperiled world serve as reminders of why he ranks among America’s foremost novelists. ... Readers will be awed.
— Publishers Weekly

Is there anything Richard Powers cannot write? The world here is complete, seductive, and promising. The writing feels like the ocean. Vast, mysterious, deep, and alive.
— Percival Everett

An extraordinarily immersive journey through lives linked in mysterious ways—gripping, alarming, and uplifting.
— Emma Donoghue

Powers is a master of taking important topics of our times—from threats to our oceans and climate change to AI—and turning them into riveting and fiercely relevant books imbued with psychological insight and a deep awe for nature. This eloquent dance of the scientific and emotional makes him one of our finest storytellers. Playground is brilliant, captivating, and important—and the best book I’ve read this year.

— Andrea Wulf
Product Details
ISBN: 9781324086031
ISBN-10: 1324086033
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: September 24th, 2024
Pages: 400
Language: English
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