Have reports of the death of the novel been greatly exaggerated? The critical and commercial success of Jonathan Franzen’s books reveal there’s still an enormous appetite for the big, realist novel.
Franzen’s works of fiction – especially Freedom and The Corrections – are often celebrated as ‘sweeping’, ‘sprawling’ and ‘panoramic’, recalling the great novels of the 19th century in both their scope and ambition. In subject matter, however, Franzen’s focus is firmly on the present day. His writing is characterised by depictions of dysfunction in American families and in American progressivism – and by sharp, even caustic, humour. Purity, his latest novel, exemplifies Franzen’s style as it explores themes of secrecy, privacy and surveillance in the internet age.
As perhaps the most famous living writer in America, Franzen’s non-fiction also garners huge international attention. His funny, incisive and often controversial essays – on topics ranging from Edith Wharton to birdlife, from Charles M. Schulz to the inadequacies of modern media – have appeared in the pages of the New Yorker, the Guardian and the New York Times.
At the Athenaeum Theatre – in a plague of Jonathans – Franzen will join Jonathan Green for a conversation about Purity, privacy and the potential of the novel.
In partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse, Perth Writers' Festival and Sydney Writers' Festival.
Jonathan Franzen is the author of five novels, most recently Purity, Freedom and The Corrections, and five works of nonfiction and translation, including Farther Away and The Kraus Project. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie der Künste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Jonathan Green has been a working journalist since the late 1970s. This makes him both very old and reasonably experienced. After an early degree-ending flirtation with public radio, the bulk of Jonathan’s career has been spent in newspapers, beginning with a cadetship at the Canberra Times and taking in a small Cook’s tour of Australian dailies: the Melbourne Herald, the Herald Sun, the Sunday Herald, the Sunday Age and the Age. In mid-2015 he was appointed as editor of the literary quarterly Meanjin.