Jonathan Earl Franzen was born on August 17, 1959, in Western Springs Illinois, USA to Irene and Earl T. Franzen. He was the last born in the family with two other siblings. His father was an engineer while his mom was a housewife who didn’t value arts and always encouraged Franzen to take other better subjects. His early years were spent in a less known suburb of St. Louis, Missouri called the Webster Groves. At Swarthmore College, he studied Germany and came out of the other end with a degree while being fluent at it. He got married soon after graduation and moved to Boston with his wife Valerie Cornell in 1982 to pursue a career as an author.
Most of Franzen’s work is based on literary fiction but critically covers on issues that affect the modern society, as we might know it today. He has earned himself a good reputation as an author and his notable novels have sprawled ironic family drama. He has a national book award for his work, he become a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, these are just but few of the notable medals he has on his back not to mention that he appeared on Time magazine’s cover with the headline that read “Great American Novelist”.
Franzen managed to sell his first book entitled “The Twenty-Seventh City” which was in print in 1988 after he had moved to New York in chase of the American dream. The Twenty-Seventh City is a fictional story that revolves around some Indian politicians led by Bombay an ex-police commissioner who terrorize citizens after infiltrating the bureaucracy. He wrote this book while still at Harvard as a assistant in research at the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
Later on, he published “strong motion” which is about a disturbed family but did not gain so much financial success. At the writing of this book, he was going through hard times since his critics were well recognized but no one was buying his books in stores while at the same time he lost his dad and later on divorced.
Some of the notable works that brought the name Jonathan Earl Franzen to the name light included:
• The corrections – it is a social criticism novel that talks about a disturbed couple with their three children who try to retrace their lives, the book goes back and forth around the mid-20th century to the turning of the new millennium. The book got a BBC broadcast in 2015 January.
• Freedom – the writing of this book was heavily influenced by the death of Franzen’s close friend and novelist called David Foster, it is entirely based on critics and revolves around an American family called the Berglund’s, who have troubled relationships over years but soon before the new millennium begins they conclude their troubles.
• Purity –the fictional story revolves around a young lady called Purity Tyler commonly referred to as Pip in the novel, who sets out to find the true identity of his father. Pip’s mom is reclusive and won’t even tell her original name or age.
Franzen has written many short books and novels, the stated above are just but to mention a few. Some works that he has written that should not go unnoticed include the following.
• Perchance to Dream – the book focuses on characters internal emotions
• Mr. Difficult – a fictional story just for entertainment
• The Comfort Zone – this was a true personal essay about him and his family while growing up in Missouri and how much he loved peanuts from Charles M. Schulz.
Most of Franzen’s work have been widely acknowledged and made the appearance on different TV shows. Oprah Winfrey discussed the novel freedom at her show and being in Oprah’s Book club, the Corrections got BBC broadcast over 15-minute episodes.
Franzen has been getting media attention since he published his first book and continuously proved himself to be the critic that he portrays himself to be in all of his writings, from a humble background this young quite intellectual boy shocked the world by bringing out words that no else could think about while being unique in his one style to distinguish himself from being an average writer. Even fellow female artists once had the impression that he was getting more media and crowd love more than they could a fact, which he could not deny.
Oprah Winfrey once rescinded and announced that Franzen will not be on her show because he was uncomfortable and conflicted since he used to seat in the Oprah book selection panel, this alone made him more famous than he was and in his next book he unleashed all he had hidden just to be crowned the best of his time.
Here are some of the awards that Franzen has managed to scoop in hi novelist carrier
• Whiting Award in 1988
• Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996
• Berlin Prize in 2000
• Salon Book Award in 2001
• Carlos Fuentes Medal in 2012
• Welt-Literaturpreis in 2013
James Tait Black Memorial Prize winner in 2002
And many other awards just to mention but a few that are notable
Early In 2011, Franzen was to be involved in a multi-part television adaptation of “The Corrections” for HBO but later on HBO stated that corrections had complex citing which made it hard to create a successful series and views won’t follow up easily.
Jonathan Franzen’s fiction works leaves on and is regarded as some of the best fictional works of the 21st century, for one to successfully write four novels and prove that his creativity and passion for writing is still at its prime is truly an incredible gift. The 59-year-old Franzen nowadays sits in the 125th Street and still manages to pour his love for writing in the New Yorker magazine and travels a bit country sides.
Franzen’s work is not entirely based on fiction but some of his work is a true representation of himself and the life he lives that is why most people can get to relate with his life. They communicate something agonizing about being an open-minded today. The evidence is found in the introduction to his essay How to Be Alone, where he contends that the Harper’s essay was actually about him. Franzen separated with Valerie Cornell and are now divorced. He lives with his girlfriend, writer Kathy Chetkovich when in California and currently writes for the New Yorker magazine.
Books in order of publication by series:
|The Twenty-Seventh City||(1988)|
|How to Be Alone||(2002)|
|The Discomfort Zone||(2006)|
|The Kraus Project||(2013)|
|The End of the End of the Earth: Essays||(2018)|