Jonathan Franzen Returns with ‘Multigenerational American Epic’

Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Earl Franzen, son of St. Louis and King of the Curmudgeons, will publish Purity, a new novel, this September. According to Farrar, Straus & Giroux editor Jonathan Galassi, the novel is “a multigenerational American epic that spans decades and continents” and covers sexual politics, love, and parenthood. (So this is new territory for Franzen.) The novel is also apparently not “strict realism” in the mode of The Corrections and Freedom. “There’s a kind of fabulist quality to it,” Galassi said. “There’s a kind of mythic undertone to the story.”

The story concerns a woman named Purity Tyler (known, apparently, as Pip), who doesn’t know her father and “sets out to uncover his identity.” An orphan named Pip? Great Expectations anyone?

This is Franzen’s first novel since 2010’s Freedom. In 2012, Franzen published Farther Away, an essay collection, and last year he translated, annotated, and published a collection of Karl Kraus’ writing.

And if that isn’t enough Franzen for you, Bloomsbury will publish a biography of the writer by “casual acquaintance” Philip Weinstein, titled Jonathan Franzen: The Comedy of Rage, in the fall.