Winner of the National Book Award
Jonathan Franzen was born in 1959 and graduated from Swarthmore College. He has lived in Boston, Spain, New York, Colorado Springs and Philadelphia. His previous novels are The Twenty-Seventh City (1988) and Strong Motion (1992). How to be Alone, a collection of Franzen's non fiction will be published in October 2002.
If some authors are masters of suspense, others postmodern verbal acrobats, and still others complex-character pointillists, few excel in all three arenas. In his long-awaited third novel, Franzen does. Unlike his previous works, The 27th City (1988) and Strong Motion (1992), which tackled St. Louis and Boston, respectively, this one skips from city to city (New York; St. Jude; Philadelphia; Vilnius, Lithuania) as it follows the delamination of the Lambert family Alfred, once a rigid disciplinarian, flounders against Parkinson's-induced dementia; Enid, his loyal and embittered wife, lusts for the perfect Midwestern Christmas; Denise, their daughter, launches the hippest restaurant in Philly; and Gary, their oldest son, grapples with depression, while Chip, his brother, attempts to shore his eroding self-confidence by joining forces with a self-mocking, Eastern-Bloc politician. As in his other novels, Franzen blends these personal dramas with expert technical cartwheels and savage commentary on larger social issues, such as the imbecility of laissez-faire parenting and the farcical nature of U.S.-Third World relations. The result is a book made of equal parts fury and humor, one that takes a dry-eyed look at our culture, at our pains and insecurities, while offering hope that, occasionally at least, we can reach some kind of understanding. This is, simply, a masterpiece. Agent, Susan Golomb. (Sept.) Forecast: Franzen has always been a writer's writer and his previous novels have earned critical admiration, but his sales haven't yet reached the level of, say, Don DeLillo at his hottest. Still, if the ancillary rights sales and the buzz at BEA are any indication, The Corrections should be his breakout book. Its varied subject matter will endear it to a genre-crossing section of fans (both David Foster Wallace and Michael Cunningham contributed rave blurbs) and FSG's publicity campaign will guarantee plenty of press. QPB main, BOMC alternate. Foreign rights sold in the U.K., Denmark, Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Spain. Nine-city author tour. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
'A book which is funny, moving, generous, brutal and intelligent, and which poses the ultimate question, what life is for -- and that is as much as anyone could ask.' Blake Morrison, GUARDIAN'For anyone who has ever found themselves guiltily yearning for an Anne Tyler while in the middle of an Updike or Wolfe. The Lamberts are utterly believable, and once they have all told their stories you can't help but sympathise with them. Be prepared to be moved.' Laurence Phelan, INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY'Compelling. A pleasure from beginning to end. Franzen, in one leap, has put himself into the league of Updike & Roth. That's why there is so much excitement about it.' David Sexton, EVENING STANDARD'A novel of outstanding sympathy, wit, moral intelligence and pathos, a family saga told with stylistic brio and psychological and political insight. No British novelist is currently writing at this pitch.' Jeremy Treglowen, FINANCIAL TIMES'Impossible to dislike, an unpretentious page-turner.' Zadie Smith, GUARDIAN Books of the Year'The Corrections is a wonderful book. Every page simmers with wit, close observation and intelligence. Franzen has delivered as wounding and thoughtful an indictment of contemporary existence as it is possible to make.' John Burnside, SCOTSMAN'As good as anything I've ever read.' Rachel Cusk, DAILY TELGRAPH Books of the Year
In this novel of breathtaking virtuosity, Franzen, whose debut, The Twenty-Seventh City, chronicled corruption and decline in St. Louis, MO, presents the dysfunctional Lambert family. Enid Lambert's husband, Al, a retired engineer, is going downhill fasthis Parkinson's disease is so bad that he has trouble sitting in a chair. The rest of the family isn't doing much better. The oldest son, Gary, a banker, is depressed and suicidal; Chip has just been fired from his teaching job; and Denise, a superstar chef at a trendy Philadelphia restaurant, is sexually involved with both her boss and his wife. The family is experiencing a series of lifestyle corrections analogous to sudden downturns in the stock market, and Enid tries to rebound by hosting an old-fashioned Christmas at their Midwestern home. From this soap opera premise, Franzen constructs a brilliant novel of ideas that compares the emerging postmodern America (East Coast) to the quickly disappearing traditional America (Midwest), with digressions on railroad history, pharmacology, post-glasnost politics, culinary trends, celebrity culture, and Wall Street. Wisely, Franzen pitches the book not as a polemic but as a farce, and the result is laugh-out-loud funny. Best of all, everything neatly dovetails, so that each digression seems immediately relevant to the main story. Recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/01.]Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.