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Tag: Jonathan Franzen (1-10 of 11)

Jonathan Franzen on the books he loves and loathes

You’ve certainly heard of Jonathan Franzen’s most famous books, The Corrections and Freedom, but maybe not his terrific but under-read debut novel, The Twenty-Seventh City, now available in a special 25th-anniversary edition from Picador Modern Classics. In honor of his first novel, Franzen talked to EW about some of the other books that impacted him as an author and person — as well as some books and authors he considers overrated. READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Authors feud over Jonathan Franzen essay; Man Booker Prize goes global

Double the feuds, double the fun essays, with the Man Booker Prize and Jonathan Franzen stirring up literary controversies left and right. But even without the fighting, Thursday’s headlines include appearances by Junot Diaz and James Franco. Find out more below on today’s top books news: READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Tina Brown pens memoir; Man Booker Prize to include American writers

Shaking up the literary world today: big-name memoirs, book-award announcements and an essay by Jonathan Franzen. Read on for more book news:

The National Book Foundation announced this year’s Young People’s Literature Longlist for the National Book Award; finalists will be unveiled on October 16. [Full list at the National Book Awards website.]

In more controversial awards news, the Man Booker Prize — the most prestigious British literature honor — announced Sunday that it will consider American writers starting next year. [The Independent]

Jonathan Franzen is stirring up controversy with an essay titled “What’s Wrong with the Modern World.” In it, he targets Jeff Bezos of Amazon for the site’s self-publishing and promotion. [The Guardian] Here’s an excerpt:

In my own little corner of the world, which is to say American fiction, Jeff Bezos of Amazon may not be the antichrist, but he surely looks like one of the four horsemen. Amazon wants a world in which books are either self-published or published by Amazon itself, with readers dependent on Amazon reviews in choosing books, and with authors responsible for their own promotion. The work of yakkers and tweeters and braggers, and of people with the money to pay somebody to churn out hundreds of five-star reviews for them, will flourish in that world. But what happens to the people who became writers because yakking and tweeting and bragging felt to them like intolerably shallow forms of social engagement? What happens to the people who want to communicate in depth, individual to individual, in the quiet and permanence of the printed word, and who were shaped by their love of writers who wrote when publication still assured some kind of quality control and literary reputations were more than a matter of self-promotional decibel levels?

Speaking of “the quiet and permanence of the printed word,” we’re sure Franzen would have a lot to comment about this next item: A bookless public library opened in Texas on Saturday, offering about 10,000 free e-books and audio books. [NPR]

Moving on to book releases, recently outed Tina Brown announced Friday she’ll be writing Media Beast, a memoir “of her years at the top of the media world,” says publisher Henry Holt in a press release. The book will be published in 2016.

Joining Brown in memoir-writing is former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. His book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War will cover his time as the only defense secretary to serve under a Republican president — George W. Bush — and a Democratic one — Barack Obama. “This is a book about my more than four and a half years at war,” Gates writes in his introduction. “But this book is also about my political war with Congress each day I was in office and the dramatic contrast between my public respect, bipartisanship, and calm, and my private frustration, disgust, and anger.” The book is slated for release January 14.

Meanwhile, Ricky Martin will also be penning a book, but in this case, a picture book for children titled Santiago the Dreamer in ‘Land Among the Stars,’ about a young boy who dreams of performing on stage. “I hope this book inspires young readers to believe that dreams woven from their imaginations can become reality,” Martin says in a press release. The book, which will be simultaneously published in English and in Spanish, hits shelves on November 14.

Finally, Nicholas Sparks is launching a home decor collection. Yes, you read that right — beginning Tuesday, his “hand-picked decor collection inspired by his most memorable story plots” will be available for sale through home site Joss and Main for The Nicholas Sparks Curate for a Cause Event, with proceeds benefitting The Nicholas Sparks Foundation, according to a press release. We’re betting the collection includes some decorative tissue boxes.

Earthquakes in fiction: 5 earth-moving titles

In honor of our “seismologic day” yesterday, we looked at literature in which earthquakes played a major role. Natural disasters have always been a transformative force in fiction, a way of literally and metaphorically shaking things up. David Ulin of the L.A. Times selected nine books that “channel both our terror and awe” of earthquakes. We chose a few of our favorite shaky titles our own below. READ FULL STORY

On the Books Mar. 11: Jennifer Egan bests Franzen for National Book Critics Circle Award

jennifer-eganImage Credit: Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty ImagesIn what can only  be seen as an upset, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad beat out Freedom by Jonathan Franzen for the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Personally, I applaud the board for awarding Egan’s highly original, immensely entertaining novel of interconnected stories (even though Franzen’s novel would have been a more than deserving winner as well). Goon Squad will be released in paperback Mar. 22.

Mick Taylor, former guitarist of the Rolling Stones, will pen a memoir about his time with the band.

Who says libraries are dead? Bolingbrook, Illinois got a three-story, $39.5 million state-of-the-art library stocked with flat-screens, self-checkout stations, an automated book sorter (what’s that?), and a cafe. A section called the Vortex, designed to attracted teens, is decked with plasma TVs and beanbag chairs. The library as a whole is meant to appeal more to young professionals. Suddenly Bolingbrook sounds like it’s worth a visit.

This might hurt: Which Jonathan Franzen character are you?

Mindy-KalingImage Credit: Bob Charlotte/PR PhotosWhich Star Wars character do you most identify with? Which superhero would you be? These are fun, frivolous games to play while killing time with the kids in the car on your way to the in-laws (hopefully not in St. Jude). But then there’s this question, suggested by The Office‘s Mindy Kaling, who tweeted: “The Jonathan Franzen character I’m most like is Abigail, Patty’s sister in Freedom. Which Franzen character are you most like?”

Can’t I just say Han Solo and turn on some talk radio? Because I just completed the double whammy of Franzen’s recent best-seller Freedom and his devastating 2001 novel, The Corrections, and there’s not one character in 1,152 pages that I’d publicly wrap my arms around. READ FULL STORY

Oprah and Franzen finally meet: A little awkward, but don't worry, everything's good

frazen-oprahImage Credit: APNine years after a media storm erupted over comments Jonathan Franzen made in relation to his novel’s inclusion in Oprah’s Book Club, the Queen of All Media invited the author to her show today to discuss his new book, Freedom, as well as the kerfuffle now safely in their rearview mirror. You could have subtitled their discussion The Corrections; both Oprah and Franzen appeared eager to set the record straight about the sorta-feud. The two were a little tense during the minutes dedicated to going over that period in their shared history, with a commendably not-quite-contrite Franzen citing his unpreparedness with the soundbite-obsessed, controversy-hungry television media cycle as part of the reason why this particular molehill was turned into a mountain. “It was probably the big thing I learned from the experience, which was to have more respect for television,” he told Oprah. When asked about the impression of him as a “snob” he replied that he isn’t one at all, but rather a “Midwestern egalitarian.” Although, I’m not quite sure whether using the phrase “Midwestern egalitarian” actually helps or hurts him on this point.

Things were a little less awkward when they discussed the present day, hitting topics like Franzen’s 20-minute conversation with President Obama and his solitary writing process. For her part, Oprah was effusive in praising Freedom. What do you think, Shelf-Lifers? Happy to see the reconciliation, even nine years after the fact?

And the best book of 2010 is...


December isn’t just a month for office party faux pas and last minute holiday shopping. It’s also “best of” list time! While you wait for EW’s best & worst issue (on sale 12/17), take a look at some of the other lists that have started rolling out.

Earlier this week The New York Times put their Top 10 books of the year online in advance of this weekend’s print edition. It has some usual suspects in fiction: Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom (showing up on just about everyone’s best of list this year), A Visit from the Goon Squad‘s Jennifer Egan (yay!), and Emma Donoghue’s Room in addition to Ann Beattie’s The New Yorker Stories and Selected Stories by William Trevor. In nonfiction, some of our other favorites like Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns and The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee made the cut, as did Jennifer Homans’ Apollo’s Angels, Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra, and Finishing the Hat by Stephen Sondheim. (Also be sure to check out the NYT’s100 Notable Books of 2010″ which was published last week.)

Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 includes Franzen, Egan, and Wilkerson, but also adds Patti Smith’s Just Kids (National Book Award winner!) and Brady Udall’s The Lonely Polygamist. Amazon editors rank their favorites, as does The Atlantic (with, intriguingly, no Franzen in sight!) and San Francisco Chronicle put Stieg Larsson’s trilogy on the list.

So what about you? What books would you put on your top ten list?

National Book Award finalists announced: Where's Franzen?

The day after the Man Booker Prize was handed out, the nominations for the National Book Award have been announced. The fiction shortlist comprises Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America, Nicole Krauss’ Great House, Lionel Shriver’s So Much for That, Jaimy Gordon’s Lord of Misrule, and Karen Tei Yamashita’s I Hotel. The Australian-born Carey has previously won the Man Booker and his latest novel was also a finalist for that prize, but it also qualifies for the National Book Award because the author also has U.S. citizenship. However, the most notable aspect of this list is an absence: Jonathan Franzen’s best-selling, critically acclaimed Freedom is nowhere to be seen. This is especially notable since his previous novel, The Corrections, won the award nine years ago.

Patti Smith’s searing memoir Just Kids made it among the finalists for nonfiction, keeping company with previous National Book Award winner John W. Dower’s Cultures of War, among others. Here is the full list of finalists:

Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America
Nicole Krauss, Great House
Lionel Shriver, So Much for That
Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule
Karen Tei Yamashita, I Hotel

Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy
Megan K. Stack, Every Man in This Village Is a Liar
Patti Smith, Just Kids
John W. Dower, Culures of War
Justin Spring, Secret Historian

Kathleen Graber, The Eternal City
Terrance Hayes, Lighthead
James Richardson, By the Numbers
C.D. Wright, One with Others
Monica Youn, Ignatz

Young People’s Literature
Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker
Kathryn Erskine, Mockingbird
Laura McNeal, Dark Water
Walter Dean Myers, Lockdown
Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer

Oprah will finally be choosing her new Book Club book. What do you think she should she pick?

oprahImage Credit: Amy Sussman/Getty ImagesAlmost a full year after her last pick, and just in time to decidedly not choose the new Jonathan Franzen, Oprah Winfrey will soon be announcing the next inductee into that all-powerful pantheon of literature: Oprah’s Book Club. Now, there are two possible routes: She could pick a new work, like she did with, say, A Million Little Pieces, or she could go for the reconstituted classic like she did with Love in the Time of Cholera or East of Eden. Personally, I hope she does the former, if only to avoid the slightly saddening prospect of a sticker that reads “Crime and Punishment: As Seen on Oprah!”

According to the AP, the Queen of All Media—including books—will announce her latest Book Club pick live on-air on September 17, exactly 14 years after she announced her first choice, The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Since this is going to be the final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show, it’s unclear how much longer the club will continue, and this may even end up the last pick ever. What do you think Shelf-Lifers? Any ideas as to what you think Oprah might choose? Any books you hope she does?

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