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Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul—the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a better world.
But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outré rocker and Walter’s college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?
In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom’s characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.
Jonathan Franzen is the author of three novels—The Corrections, The Twenty-Seventh City, and Strong Motion—and two works of nonfiction, How to Be Alone and The Discomfort Zone, all published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California.
“A masterpiece of American fiction.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Mr. Franzen has written his most deeply felt novel yet—a novel that turns out to be both a compelling biography of a dysfunctional family and an indelible portrait of our times.” —The New York Times
“A work of total genius.” —New York Magazine
“The Great American Novel.” —Esquire
“One of the best living American novelists.” —Time
“Epic.” —Vanity Fair
“Hugely ambitious . . . Freedom is very, very good.” —USA Today
“Brilliant . . . Epic . . . An extraordinary stylist.” —The Washington Post
“A surprisingly moving and even hopeful epic.” —NPR
“Sweeping and powerful.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Consuming and extraordinarily moving.” —Los Angeles Times
“Immense and unforgettable.” —Chicago Tribune
“Devastatingly insightful.” —The Miami Herald
“A page turner that engages the mind.” —Newsday
“It’s refreshing to see a novelist who wants to engage the questions of our time in the tradition of 20th-century greats like John Steinbeck and Sinclair Lewis . . . [This] is a book you’ll still be thinking about long after you’ve finished reading it.” —Associated Press
“Deeply moving and superbly crafted . . . It’s such a full novel, rich in description, broad in its reach and full of wry observations.” —Pittsburg Post-Gazette
“His writing is so gorgeous . . . Franzen is one of those exceptional writers whose works define an era and a generation, and his books demand to be read.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A tour de force . . . one of the finest novelists of his generation.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A highly readable triumph of conventional realism . . . Addictive.” —The National
“The first Great American Novel of the post-Obama era.” —Telegraph (UK)
“A literary genius . . . This is simply on a different plane from other contemporary fiction . . . Freedom is the novel of the year, and the century.” —The Guardian (UK)
“A triumph . . . A pleasure to read.” —The New York Observer
“Exhilarating . . . Gripping . . . Moving . . . On a level with The Great Gatsby [and] Gone With the Wind.” —Bloomberg