Freedom

Freedom

Hardback

Jonathan Franzen

Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul – the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbour who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter – environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, family man – she was doing her small part to build a better world.

But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz – outré rocker and Walter’s old college friend and rival – still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to poor Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbour,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?

In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of too much liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom’s intensely realized characters, as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.

Reviews of Freedom

  • Praise for The Corrections:

    ‘Jonathan Franzen has built a powerful novel out of the swarming consciousness of a marriage, a family, a whole culture – our culture. And he has done it with a sympathy and expansiveness that bends the edgy modern temper to a generous breadth of vision.’ Don DeLillo

    ‘Funny and deeply sad, large-hearted and merciless, The Corrections is a testament to the range and depth of pleasures great fiction affords.’
    David Foster Wallace

    ‘In its complexity, its scrutinizing and utterly unsentimental humanity, and its grasp of the subtle relationships between domestic drama and global events, The Corrections stands in the company of Mann’s Buddenbrooks and DeLillo’s White Noise. It is a major accomplishment.’
    Michael Cunningham

    ‘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

    ‘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