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About Jonathan Franzen
Jonathan Franzen is the author of five novels--Purity, Freedom, The Corrections, The Twenty-Seventh City, and Strong Motion--and five works of nonfiction and translation, including Farther Away, How to Be Alone, and The Discomfort Zone, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie der Kunste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
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The highly anticipated new novel from one of our greatest living writers.
It's December 23, 1971, and the Hildebrandt family is at a crossroads. The patriarch, Russ, the associate pastor of a suburban Chicago church, is poised to break free of a marriage he finds joyless--unless his brilliant and unstable wife, Marion, breaks free of it first. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college afire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem's sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high-school class, has veered into the era's counterculture, while their younger brother Perry, fed up with selling pot to support his drug habit, has firmly resolved to be a better person. Each of the Hildebrandts seeks a freedom that each of the others threatens to complicate.
Universally recognized as the leading novelist of his generation, Jonathan Franzen is often described as a teller of family stories. Only now, though, in Crossroads, has he given us a novel in which a family, in all the intricacy of its workings, is truly at the centre.
By turns comic and harrowing, a tour-de-force of interwoven perspectives and sustained suspense, Crossroads is the first volume of a trilogy, A Key to All Mythologies, that will span three generations and trace the inner life of our culture through the present day. Complete in itself, set in a historical moment of moral crisis, and reaching back to the early twentieth century, Crossroads serves as a foundation for a sweeping investigation of human mythologies, as the Hildebrandt family navigates the political, intellectual and social crosscurrents of the past fifty years.
Jonathan Franzen's gift for wedding depth and vividness of character with breadth of social vision has never been more dazzlingly evident than in Crossroads.
Enid, long-time matriarch of the Lambert family, sets her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home.
Published to universal acclaim, Jonathan Franzen’s novel about a post-modern family breaking down in late twentieth-century America is a comic, tragic masterpiece. Richly realistic, darkly hilarious, and deeply human, The Corrections was a #1 bestseller across North America and the winner of the National Book Award.
Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul—the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbour who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a better world.
But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outré rocker and Walter’s college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbour,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?
In this instant #1 bestselling novel, Jonathan Franzen charts the mistakes and joys of these intensely realized characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world. An epic of contemporary love and marriage, Freedom is a deeply moving portrait of our time.
Louis Holland arrives in Boston in a spring of ecological upheaval (a rash of earthquakes on the North Shore) and odd luck: the first one kills his grandmother. Louis tries to maintain his independence, but falls in love with a Harvard seismologist whose discoveries about the earthquakes' cause complicate everything.
Jonathan Franzen's huge-canvased new book is about identity, the Internet, sexual politics, and love--among countless other things. It's deeply troubling, richly moving, and hilarious--featuring an unforgettable cast of inimitable Franzenian characters who grapple mightily and rewardingly with the great issues of our time and culture.
Purity Tyler, known to all as Pip, is an outspoken, forthright young woman struggling to make a life for herself. She sleeps in an rickety commune in Oakland. She's in love with an unavailable older man and is saddled with staggering college debt. She has a crazy mother and doesn't know who her father is. A chance encounter leads her to an internship in South America with the world-famous Sunlight Project, which uses the internet to expose government and corporate fraud and malfeasance. TSP is the brainchild of Andreas Wolf, a charismatic genius who grew up privileged but disaffected in the German Democratic Republic. Forced to run TSP in Bolivia because of the hostility of European nations whose misdeeds he has exposed, Andreas is drawn to Pip for reasons she doesn't understand. Like numerous women before her, she becomes obsessed with Andreas, and they have an intense, unsettling relationship. Eventually, he finds her work at an online magazine in Denver with Tom Aberant, who, with his life partner, Leila Helou, uses old-fashioned reporting to achieve some of the same results that TSP seems to pull out of thin air.
That's the top story. What lies underneath is a wild tale of hidden identities, secret wealth, neurotic fidelity, sociopathy and murder. The truth of Pip's parentage lies at the center of this maelstrom, but before it is resolved Franzen takes us from the rain-drenched forests of northern California, to paranoid East Berlin before the fall of the Wall, to the paradisiacal mountain valleys of Bolivia, exposing us to the vagaries of radical politics, the problematic seductions of the internet, and the no-holds-barred war between the sexes.
The End of the End of the Earth is a collection of Jonathan Franzen's essays and speeches from the past five years, in which he grapples with the most important and heated ethical subjects of the day: environmentalism, capitalism, wealth inequality, race, technology and the role of art. He challenges us to ask difficult questions: What is our civic responsibility in the face of climate change, the greatest ever threat to our planet and species? Does technology give us a sense of control or community or is it stripping these from us? Above all, in these essays, Franzen asks us to care--about causes great and small, with subjects as big as our planet and specific as a rare species of birds. These essays are in praise of empathy, and of the beauty and power of nature and art.
This slim but powerful book is Franzen at his best, incisive, persuasive and compassionate.
The Discomfort Zone is Jonathan Franzen’s tale of growing up afraid of spiders, school dances, urinals, music teachers, boomerangs, popular girls, and his parents. It’s also a portrait of a middle-class family weathering the turbulence of the 1970s, and a vivid personal history of the decades in which America turned away from its mid-century idealism and became a more polarized society. Whether he’s writing about the explosive dynamics of a Christian youth fellowship in the 1970s, the effects of Kafka’s fiction on his own protracted quest to lose his virginity, or the web of connections between birdwatching, his all-consuming marriage, and the problem of global warming, Franzen’s recounting of a Midwestern youth and a New York adulthood is warmed by the same blend of comic scrutiny and affection that characterizes his fiction. Funny, insightful, and daringly honest, The Discomfort Zone is Jonathan Franzen at his most engaging.
Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom was the most-discussed novel of 2010, an ambitious and searching engagement with life in America in the 21st century. In The New York Times Book Review, Sam Tanenhaus proclaimed it “a masterpiece of American fiction” and lauded its illumination “through the steady radiance of its author’s profound moral intelligence, [of] the world we thought we knew.”
In Farther Away, which gathers together essays and speeches written mostly in the past five years, Franzen returns with renewed vigour to the themes, both human and literary, that have long preoccupied him. Whether recounting his violent encounter with bird poachers in Cyprus, examining his mixed feelings about the suicide of his friend and rival David Foster Wallace, or offering a moving and witty take on the ways in which technology has changed how people express their love, these pieces deliver on Franzen’s implicit promise to conceal nothing. Taken together, his essays trace the progress of a unique and mature mind wrestling with itself, with literature and with some of the most important issues of our day.
Download the first chapter of Jonathan Franzen's next novel, Crossroads.
It’s December 23, 1971, and heavy weather is forecast for Chicago. Russ Hildebrandt, the associate pastor of a liberal suburban church, is on the brink of breaking free of a marriage he finds joyless—unless his wife, Marion, who has her own secret life, beats him to it. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college on fire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem’s sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high-school class, has sharply veered into the counterculture, while their brilliant younger brother Perry, who’s been selling drugs to seventh graders, has resolved to be a better person. Each of the Hildebrandts seeks a freedom that each of the others threatens to complicate.
Jonathan Franzen’s novels are celebrated for their unforgettably vivid characters and for their keen-eyed take on contemporary America. Now, in Crossroads, Franzen ventures back into the past and explores the history of two generations. With characteristic humor and complexity, and with even greater warmth, he conjures a world that resonates powerfully with our own.
A tour de force of interwoven perspectives and sustained suspense, its action largely unfolding on a single winter day, Crossroads is the story of a Midwestern family at a pivotal moment of moral crisis. Jonathan Franzen’s gift for melding the small picture and the big picture has never been more dazzlingly evident.
From Jonathan Franzen, the National Book Award–winning author of The Corrections, come fourteen provocative and entertaining answers to the question of how to be alone in a noisy and distracting mass culture. Although Franzen’s subjects range from the sex-advice industry to the way a supermax prison works, each piece wrestles with essential themes of his writing: the erosion of civic life and private dignity, the dubious claims of technology and psychology, the tragic shape of the individual life. Recent pieces include a moving essay on his father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease and a rueful account of Franzen’s brief tenure as an Oprah Winfrey author.
This is a book that will further cement Franzen’s reputation as one of the sharpest, toughest, and liveliest writers at work today.
25th Anniversary Edition
Picador Modern Classics
Published in 1988, Jonathan Franzen's The Twenty-Seventh City is the debut novel of a writer who would come to define our times.
St. Louis, Missouri, is a quietly dying river city until it hires a new police chief: a charismatic young woman from Bombay, India, named S. Jammu. No sooner has Jammu been installed, though, than the city's leading citizens become embroiled in an all-pervasive political conspiracy. Set in mid-1980s, The Twenty-Seventh City predicts every unsettling shift in American life for the next two decades: suburban malaise, surveillance culture, domestic terrorism, paranoia. A classic of contemporary fiction, The Twenty-Seventh City shows us an ordinary metropolis turned inside out, and the American Dream unraveling into terror and dark comedy.
The National Book Award–winning author compiles a “thought-provoking volume” of essays by Joyce Carol Oates, Oliver Sacks, Jaquira Diaz and others (Publishers Weekly).
As Jonathan Franzen writes in his introduction, his main criterion for selecting The Best American Essays 2016 “was whether an author had taken a risk.” The resulting volume showcases authorial risk in a variety of forms, from championing an unpopular opinion to the possibility of ruining a professional career, or irrevocably alienating one’s family. What’s gained are essential insights into aspects of the human condition that would otherwise remain concealed—from questions of queer identity, to the experience of a sibling’s autism and relationships between students and college professors.The Best American Essays 2016 includes entries by Alexander Chee, Paul Crenshaw, Jaquira Diaz, Laura Kipnis, Amitava Kaumar, Sebastian Junger, Joyce Carol Oates, Oliver Sacks, George Steiner, Thomas Chatterton Williams, and others.