No high resolution image exists...
(Image by: Picador)
National Book Award-winning author Jonathan Franzen will give a talk on the process of fiction writing on Saturday, Oct. 8 at the UC Davis Mondavi Center.
Since 1988, Franzen has published four novels and two works of nonfiction.
His first novel, “The Twenty-Seventh City,” has been described by critics and Franzen himself as a work along the lines of the postmodernists of the 1960s and ‘70s. Although not receiving the acclaim his twenty-first century novels have garnered, it cemented him as someone to look out for in the literary world.
His next novel, “Strong Motion,” which came out in 1992, is a social critique framed by a family’s struggles to get along and understand one another. Although the novel received mixed reviews, the themes became the foundation for his later works of fiction.
“The Corrections,” a 2001 novel centered around the lives of the members of a repressed Midwestern family, and the manner in which these lives change as they confront the economic decline of the 1990s, catapulted Franzen into not only bestseller territory but also critical acclaim. This book won the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction as well as the 2002 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction.
Franzen also became a notorious household name in this period after rejecting an invitation from Oprah Winfrey to appear on her televised Book Club. During an interview on NPR, Franzen stated that he refused the book club offer because he believed that potential male readers would be put off by the label.
Franzen’s latest novel, “Freedom,” is a culmination of the themes of his previous works and recent difficulties.
(Image by: Picador)
Thematically similar to “The Corrections,” “Freedom” deals with the struggles of the members of a post 9/11 white middle-upper class American family. Within this, the reader also confronts environmentalism, infidelity, and questions surrounding what it means as an American to be free. “Freedom” was Oprah’s first pick for her 2010 Book Club, Barack Obama called it “terrific,” and it has received nearly universal acclaim in the media.
The novel seems to mirror many of the events of Franzen’s life: the suicide of his friend and fellow author David Foster Wallace, his divorce, his love of birds and his interest in ecology.
Since the publication of “Freedom,” Franzen has been featured on the cover of Time Magazine next to the caption “Great American Novelist,” and took a trip to the island of Masafuera, the setting of “Robinson Crusoe.”
During this trip he searched for the rayadito, a rare songbird, in vain and spread his friend’s ashes into the sea. These experiences were published in the New Yorker in a 2011 article by Franzen titled, “Farther Away: ‘Robinson Crusoe,’ David Foster Wallace, and the island of solitude.”
Franzen has also published two works of nonfiction, “How to be Alone,” an essay on finding solitude in a bustling Internet-based world; and “The Discomfort Zone,” a memoir.
UC Davis Professor of Comparative Literature and German Gail Finney said she will be attending the talk as both a fan and a student.
“I’m writing a book on family trauma myself,” Finney said. “I’ve only read ‘The Corrections,’ but I’m very interested in hearing him speak.”
Franzen will primarily cover four questions in his speech, according to the Mondavi Center website: “Who are your influences? What time of day do you work, and what do you write on? Is your fiction autobiographical?”
Franzen’s talk will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8. It will be followed by a Q&A moderated by UC Davis History Professor Eric Rauchway, and a book signing.
Tickets cost between $25 and $50, Mondavi Subscribers receive a slight discount, and student pay half price.
For more information, or to buy tickets visit the Mondavi Center event page.