Freedom

Jonathan Franzen

This is the story of the Berglunds, their son Joey, their daughter Jessica and their friend Richard Katz. It is about how we use and abuse our freedom; about the beginning and ending of love; teenage lust; the unexpectedness of adult life; why we compete with our friends; how we betray those closest to us; and why things almost never work out as they ‘should’. It is a story about the human heart, and what it leads us to do to ourselves and each other. In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. 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

  • ‘A lavishly entertaining account of a family at war with itself, and a brilliant dissection of the dissatisfactions and disappointments of contemporary American life…Compelling…Freedom, though frequently funny, is ultimately tender: its emotional currency is both the pain and the pleasure that that word implies…A rare pleasure, an irresistible invitation to binge-read…That it also grapples with a fundamental dilemma of modern middle-class America—namely: Is it really still OK to spend your life asserting your unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, when the rest of the world is in such a state?—is what makes it something wonderful. If Freedom doesn’t qualify as a Great American Novel for our time, then I don’t know what would …The reason to celebrate him is not that he is doing something new but that he is doing something old, presumed dead—and doing it brilliantly. Freedom bids for a place alongside the great achievements of his predecessors, not his contemporaries; it belongs on the same shelf as John Updike’s Rabbit, Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities, Philip Roth’s American Pastoral. It is the first Great American Novel of the post-Obama era.’ Benjamin Secher, Daily Telegraph

    ‘The ultimate way-we-live now novel’ Lev Grossman, Time
     
    ‘A literary genius for our time…An extraordinary work…This is simply on a different plane from other contemporary fiction…Demands comparison rather with Saul Bellow’s Herzog. A modern classic, Freedom is the novel of the year, and the century.’ Jonathan Jones, Guardian

    ‘Forget about 3-D films, this is a 3-D novel. The characters are alive, past, present and future. Lives are truly lived …The great achievement of Freedom is to be an almost perfectly written novel, yet one which contrives not to be intimidating. It is both a page-turner and a work of art…It is bliss.’ Sarah Sands, Evening Standard