On Autobiography and Fiction Writing: An Evening with Jonathan Franzen

When The Corrections was published in the fall of 2001, Jonathan Franzen was probably better known for his nonfiction than for the two novels he had already published. In an essay he wrote for Harper’s in 1996, Franzen lamented the declining cultural authority of the American novel and described his personal search for reasons to persist as a fiction writer. Five years later, The Corrections became an international bestseller and won Franzen the National Book Award. Franzen’s most recent novel, Freedom, was published in 2010. In August of that year, Franzen was featured on the cover of Time magazine–only the second time in the last decade that a living writer has been on the cover of this national magazine. Freedom debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list and was chosen later that year as one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2010.