Jonathan Franzen graced us with his presence Saturday, September 19 to speak about his new novel, Purity. While he was here he imparted some food for thought, admitted to liking the song “Muffin Man” by Frank Zappa, and suggested several novels to add to your collection (or a gift to add to someone else’s):
Elena Ferrante, author of The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and My Brilliant Friend, among others, is one of Italy’s most important and acclaimed contemporary writers. Her true identity is unknown.
By turns harrowing and hilarious, Edward St. Aubyn’s cycle of novels dissects the English upper class and reveals a dark world of self-loathing, privilege and addiction.
Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed And What It Means for Our Future
Jamieson is Director of Environmental Studies, Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, and Affiliated Professor of Law at New York University.
“Nell Zink is a writer of extraordinary talent and range. Her work insistently raises the possibility that the world is larger and stranger than the world you think you know. You might not want to believe this, but her sentences and stories are so strong and convincing that you’ll have no choice.” -Jonathan Franzen
Franzen recommends the unabridged manuscript version of the Thomas Hardy classic. The scenes with the locals are extended, giving us a chance to really see what the author was doing. They are hilariously long.
Franzen disagreed with an audience member who called his work historical fiction. He doesn’t believe all works of historical fiction should be consider literature, but he shared a few he thinks cross over into that category:
The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
“And, of course, like the masterpiece it is, The Blue Flower ranges far beyond itself. It is an interrogation of life, love, purpose, experience and horizons, which has found its perfect vehicle in a few years from the pitifully short life of a German youth about to become a great poet — one living in a period of intellectual and political upheaval, when even the prevailing medical orthodoxy ‘held that to be alive was not a natural state.'” -Michael Hoffman, New York Times Book Review
The Greenlanders by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jane Smiley
“A sprawling, multi-generational, heroic Norse narrative.” –Chicago Tribune