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Novelist portrays people blinded by science

Cambridge-based novelist Allegra Goodman has been recognized for her achievement in fiction by The New Yorker, which named her one of the best writers under 40; by Salon; and with a Whiting Writers' Award. But it is "Intuition," her 2006 novel of love, greed and science, that may hold special appeal for members of the MIT community.

In her March 6 review of "Intuition," Sue Halpern wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "Goodman has written an energetic indictment of high-stakes science, presenting it as a system that makes unreasonable demands on young researchers, promotes cupidity, doesn't tolerate dissent. In the end, though, this argument fails to move (those) who come to realize that despite its failings they'd rather do 'the slow exhausting work of science than anything else.'"

Halpern summarized Goodman's plot this way: "An anxious, ambitious, down-on-his-luck postdoctoral researcher suddenly obtains results that look too good to be true--the virus he's injected into cancer-riddled mice appears to be melting away their tumors--and his girlfriend, another postdoc in the same lab, comes to suspect he's fudged his results. But she doesn't know for sure: There's no hard evidence, just some sloppy, discarded lab notes that seem to suggest it."

Goodman will read and discuss her work on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in Room 6-120.

Goodman's other books include "The Family Markowitz," "Kaaterskill Falls," and "Paradise Park."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 1, 2006 (download PDF).

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