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Jonathan Franzen

Celebrated novelist...The Corrections and Freedom


Jonathan Franzen is a celebrated American novelist and essayist whose most recent book, Freedom, much like his 2001 novel The Corrections, has won widespread critical acclaim.  Touted as “a work of total genius,” and a “tour de force,” Freedom is considered a masterpiece in American fiction and Franzen a “literary genius of our time.” He is the first American author to appear on the cover of TIME magazine in the last ten years. 

Franzen’s acclaimed novel, The Corrections, earned the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction, the 2002 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, and was a finalist for the 2002 Pultizer Prize for Fiction.  The Corrections was also selected for Oprah Winfrey’s book club in 2001; however, Franzen declined the opportunity for fear that the Oprah logo on the cover might dissuade men from reading the book. Franzen subsequently gained widespread media attention and The Corrections became one of the decade’s best-selling works of literary fiction.  His other novels include The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion.

Franzen’s 2002 essay collection, How to Be Alone included “Perchance to Dream, “ a 1996 Harpers essay bemoaning the state of literature and his discomfort with the place of fiction in contemporary society. He further explored the influence of his childhood and adolescence on his creative life in his 2006 memoir, The Discomfort Zone.

Among Franzen’s rules for aspiring writers are: ”You see more sitting still than chasing after” and  “Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.” 

Educated at Swarthmore, Franzen studied on a Fulbright Scholarship in Germany. He lives in New York City and also writes for The New Yorker magazine.

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May 7, 2011