Posted by: Corri van de Stege | August 15, 2010

The American novel

Great expectations: after much debate about whether American fiction is dead (see also my food for thought post in early June) Jonathan Franzen’s new book Freedom is about to be published.   Why is this so important?  Well, if there is anyone who manages to catch the imagination as a very serious contemporary literary writer then it surely is Jonathan Franzen, with his book The Corrections.  I briefly referred to it in one of my posts last year, just before Christmas, and recommended it as a Christmas gift for anyone who had not yet read it.  So expectations are high, both the Observer today and Time last week allocate a major feature to Franzen.   There’s a photograph on the cover of Time with the banner ‘Great American Novelist’ and inside a full feature article by Lev Grossman on the author and the changing of the guard from Morrison Roth and DeLillo to Lethem, Chabon and Franzen with as the ‘new young Turks’ Jhumpa Lahiri, Junot Diaz and Joshua Ferris. 

William Skedelsky in the Observer writes: ‘In June a prominent critic proclaimed American fiction dead.  But with the imminent release of his new book, the author of highly acclaimed novel The Corrections is being touted as the saviour of US literature.’

Imagine my surprise and absolute joy when I received an advance proof copy of Freedom from Waterstones this week: to be reviewed before 1st September, with a post on the Waterstones website.  What am I waiting for?  I’m starting reading right now!



  1. I also read the article in The Observer and this one is a must. I read the Corrections some years ago and will definitely follow up with this one when its published next month. You’ve done well to get a proof copy!

  2. I’ve not read The Corrections although it has been on my list to read for many years. Now with all of the publicity surrounding Franzen’s upcoming novel, I realize how remiss I’ve been. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on his work.

  3. Tom – I’m a third through and yes, I feel terribly lucky. It’s a great read, something to look forward to at the end of the working day 🙂
    Kathleen: The Corrections is one of those books you can read anytime – he’s such a great writer, Franzen, I’m not really surprised this new book has been long coming: there is so much in it and he must be doing a lot of research to get it all right!

  4. Very interesting. I saw that cover and wondered what the fuss was about. Now I know. Enjoy the rest of Freedom. I loved The Corrections. Thought just occured to me: Franzen, Lethem and Chabon are all male, right? Interesting that Time chose another three men as their current great American novelists. I couldn’t give you three American women that should be vying for that title because I don’t read enough US authors but I’m sure there must be loads.

  5. Pete: There definitely are some female novelists that are big names: Morrison, Lahiri and there must be others that should be able to make a claim!

  6. What a treat to get an advanced copy! And what a “treat” for Franzen to heralded as saving the novel. Egads, this whole publishing world and its ripple effects are far more fascinating to me than, well, other industries, I’ll say.

    Look forward to your thoughts ons FREEDOM, though if I don’t stop reading, I’m not going to get any writing done. But at the moment, that doesn’t seem a bad thing, either.


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