Monday, August 16, 2010

WORDS: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen established himself as a great American novelist with his 2001 National Book Award winner, The Corrections. His highly anticipated follow up, Freedom, will be released on August 31, and the critics have spoken - this is the greatest American novel ever written. Ever.

Well, not all of the critics have spoken. But the notoriously harsh New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani has, and she LOVES this thing.

Calling Freedom "a compelling biography of a dysfunctional family and an indelible portrait of our times," Kakutani delivers one of the most sparkling reviews I've ever read. Sure, she sort of pans everything else Franzen has written up to this point, but in sum-total her critique is an absolute apotheosis of both him and his new book.

It may sound as though I'm sort of poking fun at Kakutani, but I'm not. Hers is a brilliant piece of writing. She points out all that Franzen gets right - and, if we're to believe her, he seems to get it all right - without fawning over him. That is so hard to do well. And nice to see, I think.

Check out the review here.

An excerpt from the novel via The Times, here.

And another excerpt from the novel via The New Yorker, here.

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