Richard Powers was born on June 18, 1957 in Evanston, Illinois. He received a B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After graduation, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts and worked as a computer programmer and freelance data processor. One day he saw August Sander's 1914 black-and-white photograph of three Westerwald farm boys heading to a dance at the Museum of Fine Arts. This photograph inspired him to quit his job and try writing a novel. Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance was published in 1985. His other works include Prisoner's Dilemma; The Gold Bug Variations; Operation Wandering Soul; Galatea 2.2; Plowing the Dark; The Time of Our Singing; and Generosity: An Enhancement. He has won numerous awards including the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction for Gain, the National Book Award for The Echo Maker, and a Lannan Literary Award.