Books by Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen was born near Chicago in August, 1959, and grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. After graduating from Swarthmore College, in 1981, he studied at the Freie Universität in Berlin as a Fulbright scholar and later worke

Released: Nov. 13, 2018

"Witty, reflective, opinionated essays from a writer with the ability to 'laugh in dark times.'"
A new collection of personal essays from a self-proclaimed "depressive pessimist" and "angry, bird-loving misfit." Read full book review >
PURITY by Jonathan Franzen
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"An expansive, brainy, yet inviting novel that leaves few foibles unexplored."
A twisty but controlled epic that merges large and small concerns: loose nukes and absent parents, government surveillance and bad sex, gory murder and fine art. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2013

"Readers interested in Kraus will be better served by Reitter's The Anti-Journalist: Karl Kraus and Jewish Self-Fashioning (2008). This book is for Franzen's fans."
Two angry men rail against their culture. Read full book review >
FARTHER AWAY by Jonathan Franzen
Released: May 1, 2012

"An unfailingly elegant and thoughtful collection of essays from the formidable mind of Franzen, written with passion and haunted by loss."
Further dispatches from one of contemporary literature's most dependable talents. Read full book review >
FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen
Released: Aug. 31, 2010

"If 'freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose' (as Kris Kristofferson wrote), this book uses too many words to convey too much of nothing."
The epic sprawl of this ambitious yet ultimately unsatisfying novel encompasses everything from indie rock to environmental radicalism to profiteering in the Middle East. Read full book review >
THE DISCOMFORT ZONE by Jonathan Franzen
Released: Sept. 5, 2006

"Quirky, funny, poignant, self-deprecating and ultimately wise."
Novelist Franzen (The Corrections, 2001, etc.) displays his mastery of nonfiction in this compact, affecting memoir, which begins with the aftermath of his mother's death and ends with a quiet epiphany about love. Read full book review >
HOW TO BE ALONE by Jonathan Franzen
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

"Smart, solid, and well-paced: a pleasure for Franzen's many remaining admirers."
Of maximum-security prisons, Dumpster diving, and privacy in a technological age: a collection of essays diverse and entertaining by the author of last year's Big Novel, The Corrections.Read full book review >
THE CORRECTIONS by Jonathan Franzen
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

"A wide-angled view of contemporary America and its discontents that deserves comparison with Dos Passos's U.S.A., if not with Tolstoy. One of the most impressive American novels of recent years."
The recent brouhaha about the death of realistic fiction may well be put to rest by Franzen's stunning third novel: a symphonic exploration of family dynamics and social conflict and change that leaps light-years beyond its critically praised predecessors The Twenty-Seventh City (1998) and Strong Motion (1992). Read full book review >
STRONG MOTION by Jonathan Franzen
Released: Jan. 1, 1992

Franzen follows his widely acclaimed debut, The Twenty-seventh City (1988), with a potent saga of tentative love and environmental catastrophe that quakes and ultimately self-destructs, although it fragments into magnificent pieces in the process. The title, a technical term for ground shaking near the epicenter of an earthquake, comes into play as a series of shocks hits the coast north of Boston, the first of which supposedly kills young Louis Holland's crotchety grandmother. His family inherits millions as a result, but he has no access to it, even when he loses his job at a local radio station after a takeover by right- to-lifers. A bright patch in his otherwise bleak landscape is his girlfriend RenÇe Seichek, a principled seismologist working at Harvard who connects the seismic activity with secret long-term dumping of a major chemical company's toxic waste into a deep well drilled on its property. Louis and RenÇe split up when an old flame comes to visit him, however, and in her loneliness RenÇe discovers she's pregnant, leading to a showdown between her and the fundamentalists picketing her abortion clinic. When she's mysteriously shot and critically wounded immediately afterward, Louis nurses her to health even as a final quake causes widespread damage, utterly destroying the chemical plant in a moment of sweet if heavy-handed poetic justice. Unfortunately, the dichotomies between romance and science, abortion and the environment are unresolved, and the self-pity in Louis's nihilism as he rails against mother, father, sister, the world, and himself makes him a cold and distant protagonist. A brooding tale of personal responsibility and dangerous legacies that's ambitious and impressive but finally overreaches itself. Read full book review >