Generosity (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
If anyone has ever had cause to be deeply depressed, a central character in Richard Powers’s Generosity, Thassadit Amzwar, can legitimately claim that distinction. An exile from Algeria, Thassa (as she is called) is the daughter of a professor of engineering. She has been forced to flee Algeria after her father was found in his classroom dead from two gunshots in the back. Nevertheless, she shows no outward signs of depression.
Thassa and her mother leave Algeria for Paris, where they have relatives. Before long, her mother falls ill with pancreatic cancer; within weeks, she is dead from this pernicious disease. Thassa relocates to Montreal, where her aunt and uncle live.
Thassa not only endures the deaths of her parents but also is wholly alienated from her background. She reminisces about the beauty of her native Kabylie, Algeria. It seems questionable, however, that she will ever be able to go home again. She cannot lay claim to her native language, Tamazight, although she cherishes a small volume of poetry in Tamazight and carries it with her.
Despite the trials this twenty-three-year-old has survived, she is possessed of an irrepressible joie de vivre, a deep-seated happiness that is so much a part of her nature that it appears to be genetic. The big question that Powers tackles in his novel is that of whether there is a happiness gene and whether nature or nurture can account for the kind of exuberance that Thassa...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
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Bookpage, October, 2009, p. 14.
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