The Philpott Institute is dedicated to cancer research and desperately in need of a grant. So when the experiments begin to work, the entire lab becomes giddy with newfound expectations. But Cliffs girlfriend suspects the unthinkable: that his findings are fraudulent. As the doubts become public the controversy engulfs the lab and everyone in it.
Hailed as a writer of uncommon clarity by the New Yorker, National Book Award finalist Allegra Goodman has dazzled readers with her acclaimed works of fiction, including such beloved bestsellers as The Family Markowitz and Kaaterskill Falls. Now she returns with a bracing new novel, at once an intricate mystery and a rich human drama set in the high-stakes atmosphere of a prestigious research institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Sandy Glass, a charismatic publicity-seeking oncologist, and Marion Mendelssohn, a pure, exacting scientist, are codirectors of a lab at the Philpott Institute dedicated to cancer research and desperately in need of a grant. Both mentors and supervisors of their young postdoctoral protégés, Glass and Mendelssohn demand dedication and obedience in a competitive environment where funding is scarce and results elusive. So when the experiments of Cliff Bannaker, a young postdoc in a rut, begin to work, the entire lab becomes giddy with newfound expectations. But Cliffs rigorous colleagueand girlfriendRobin Decker suspects the unthinkable: that his findings are fraudulent. As Robin makes her private doubts public and Cliff maintains his innocence, a life-changing controversy engulfs the lab and everyone in it.
With extraordinary insight, Allegra Goodman brilliantly explores the intricate mixture of workplace intrigue, scientific ardor, and the moral consequences of a rush to judgment. She has written an unforgettable novel.
All day the snow had been falling. Snow muffled every store and church; drifts erased streets and sidewalks. The punks at the new Harvard Square T stop had tramped off, bright as winter cardinals with their purple tufted hair and orange Mohawks. The sober Vietnam vet on Mass Ave had retreated to Au Bon Pain for coffee. Harvard Yard was quiet with snow. The undergraduates camping there for Harvard's divestment from South Africa had packed up their cardboard boxes, tents, and sleeping bags and begun building snow people. Cambridge schools were closed, but the Philpott Institute was open as usual. In the Mendelssohn-Glass lab, four postdocs and a couple of lab techs were working.
Two to a bench, like cooks crammed into a restaurant kitchen, the postdocs were extracting DNA in solution, examining cells, washing cells with chemicals, bursting cells open, changing cells forever by inserting new genetic material. They were operating sinks with foot pedals, measuring and moving ...
In an interview about Intuition, the interviewer commented that Goodman's first two novels were about the search for spirituality and asked if Intuition was about the search for a different kind of truth - scientific truth? To which Goodman replied:
"The themes in this book resonate with themes that I've dealt with in previous work. I see similarities between the search for spiritual truth and the search for truth about the world that scientists embark on. The book is very much about faith and doubt. It's about religious people, except that their religion is science." (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (629 words).
Harvard-educated Allegra Goodman started her writing career with Total Immersion, a collection of short stories published in 1989; a second volume of short stories, The Family Markowitz, followed in 1996. Her first novel, Kaaterskill Falls, was published in 1998 (and was one of the first books to be recommended at BookBrowse). Paradise Park was published in 2001 and Intuition in 2006. She lives in Cambridge, Massachussets, the setting for Intuition.
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