Jonathan Franzen’s best seller Freedom was the most-discussed novel of 2010, an ambitious and searching engagement with life in America in the 21st century. The New York Times Book Review proclaimed it “a masterpiece of American fiction.” Now a new collection of Franzen’s non-fiction brings fresh evidence of that moral intelligence, confirming his status not only as a great American novelist but also as a keen observer, social critic and self-investigator.
In Farther Away, which gathers together essays and speeches written mostly in the past five years, the writer returns with renewed vigour to the themes, both human and literary, that have long preoccupied him. Whether recounting his violent encounter with bird poachers in Cyprus, examining his mixed feelings about the suicide of his friend and rival David Foster Wallace, or offering a moving and witty take on the ways that technology has changed how people express their love, these pieces deliver on Franzen’s implicit promise to conceal nothing from the reader. These essays trace the progress of a unique and mature mind wrestling with itself, with literature and with some of the most important issues of our day.