San Francisco Public Library

July/August Pick 2007

Image representing cover of Intuition Intuition
by Allegra Goodman

Every day we wake up to news stories touting the newest health benefits of chocolate, the age-defying potential of green tea, the cancer-fighting power of the latest and greatest pharmaceutical creation. Who are the scientists behind the studies? What entities are funding the research? And, most importantly, with the huge incentives for finding the magic pills we all want, can we really trust all of this data?

In Intuition, her newest novel, which might be described as “science (research) fiction,” Allegra Goodman presents an intricate mystery and a compelling human drama set in the high-stakes atmosphere of a prestigious research institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Hailed as “a writer of uncommon clarity” by the New Yorker, National Book Award finalist Allegra Goodman has entertained readers with her acclaimed works of fiction, including such bestsellers as The Family Markowitz and Kaaterskill Falls. Intuition brings her into the laboratory, where she creates an insightful portrayal of the personal and professional passions and jealousies within the brick walls, where money, politics and reputations collide.

Sandy Glass, a charismatic publicity-seeking oncologist, and Marion Mendelssohn, a pure, exacting scientist, are co-directors 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 post-doc in a rut, begin to work, the entire lab becomes giddy with newfound expectations. But Cliff’s rigorous colleague and girlfriend, Robin 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 has crafted a timely novel that explores the intricate mixture of workplace intrigue, scientific ardor, and the moral consequences of a rush to judgment.

For On the Same Page, the library has purchased the 2006 trade paperback edition of Intuition, published by Dial Press. It is also available at the Library as an unabridged talking book in audiocassette and CD formats.

Photo of Allegra Goodman About the Author

Allegra Goodman, the daughter of Conservative Jewish parents, grew up in Hawaii, where she celebrated her bat mitzvah in a muu-muu. Goodman began her writing career when she sold her first story to Commentary magazine at age seventeen; her first collection of stories was published on the day she graduated from Harvard.

Named by the New Yorker as one of the twenty best writers under forty, Allegra Goodman has received a Whiting Award and the Salon magazine award for fiction. She earned her PhD in English Literature at Stanford University. Her work has also appeared in the New Yorker, Good Housekeeping, Slate, and the American Scholar. The author of 5 books including Paradise Park, The Family Markowitz and Kaaterskill Falls, she lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Of Related Interest

Allegra Goodman’s home page

Washington Post interview with Goodman interview with Goodman

Wikipedia entry for Allegra Goodman

Additional books by Allegra Goodman at SFPL