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Barry Schrader


I have been writing a column for the Chronicle most of the time since December 2007, with two breaks, one in 2016 and the other in 2017 when my wife Kay suffered a stroke. They are all archived here.


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Richard Powers makes DeKalb proud

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist....................................April 19, 2019

DeKalb’s Richard Powers has just received the rare recognition for a novelist—the Pulitzer prize for the best fiction novel of the year.

His 12th novel, “The Overstory,” took the coveted award many authors only dream about. One of his earlier books, “The Echo Maker,” had also received a Pulitzer nomination and for that novel he did win the National Book Award in 2006.

His talent as a writer was pointed out some years ago by the New York Review of Books when they declared: “If Powers were an American writer of the 19th Century he’d probably be the Herman Melville of ‘Moby Dick.’” Then they added: “Powers has been astonishing readers with novels that are sweeping in range, dazzling in technique, and rich in their exploration of music, art, literature and technology.”

Richard Powers shown in photo from his website. He graduated from DeKalb High School in 1975; came back after college and wrote his first novel while living in DeKalb. Now he and his wife live in Tennessee.

Powers answered my query this week asking how he felt about this honor, saying: “I’ve had a long career—12 books published over the course of more than a third of a century—and I’ve enjoyed many wonderful recognitions. This is a special one. I am so grateful that the Pulitzer Committee chose to recognize a book that tries to tell a story about how inseparable we humans really are from the non-human world.”

For those who have not read “The Overstory” his website describes it this way: “…a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. From the [Redwoods’] roots to the crown and back to the seeds, the novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late 20th Century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.”

In a phone call to DeKalb High English teacher Joe LoCascio, he said: “The Pulitzer Prize Award to Rick Powers for his novel brings me enormous satisfaction, but no surprise at all. When I congratulated Rick for the award, I told him that the book is simply a national treasure, and that my goal in life is to live long enough to see him awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. There is not another serious fiction writer who is more prolific, more insightful, nor more intellectually demanding than Richard Powers. He has brought honor to DeKalb, to our nation, and to his profession. The Pulitzer is the latest testament to his genius.”

When I first interviewed him a few years ago, Powers credited LoCascio with providing much of the inspiration for him becoming a writer and they have remained friends over the years.

Some good news for DeKalb: Powers plans to come to town September 27 for an appearance at the DeKalb Public Library. The pubic will be invited and if you bring one of his books he would most likely be willing to sign it.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115