Born: 17 August 1959
Birthplace: Western Springs, Illinois
Best known as: Author of The Corrections
Winner of the National Book Award for The Corrections (2001), Jonathan Franzen is also known as the guy who snubbed Oprah Winfrey's television book club. A graduate of Swarthmore College (1981), Franzen began publishing novels in the late 1980s. The Corrections, his third novel, was getting good reviews and selling well when Oprah Winfrey announced she had selected it as her "book of the month." Franzen's response was less than enthusiastic, and Oprah fans were insulted by what they perceived as arrogance. Franzen was publicly semi-contrite and in the end the controversy earned him and his book publicity (and sales) far beyond the usual literary circles. After The Corrections he published a collection of essays, How to Be Alone (2002), contributed regularly to The New Yorker magazine and released a memoir of adolescence, The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History (2007). His 2010 novel, Freedom, was pronounced a "masterpiece" by critics before it was even released, and came with its own share of headlines, putting Franzen smack in the middle of a snobs' debate over the fairness of literary reviews and the status of modern literature.
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