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--outr 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.
Winner of Galaxy National Book Awards: International Author of the Year 2010.
'Head and shoulders above any other book this year: moving, funny and unexpectedly beautiful. I missed it when it was over' Sam Mendes, Observer, Books of the Year
'A cat's cradle of family life, and if the measure of a good book is its afterburn, Freedom is a great book' Kirsty Wark, Observer, Books of the Year
'I loved Freedom. His acute observations of emotional faultlines, his dialogue and above all his wry humour are delightful' Antony Beevor, Sunday Telegraph, Books of the Year
'Franzen pulls off the extraordinary feat of making the lives of his characters more real to you than your own' David Hare, Guardian, Books of the Year
'No question about it: Freedom swept everything before it in intricately observed, humane, unprejudiced armfuls. There was no novel to touch it in 2010' Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year
'By the end of Freedom you may feel you understand its protagonists better than you know anyone in the world around you' Nicholas Hytner, Evening Standard, Books of the Year
'The novel of the year. Its portrait of a marriage, luminously and wittily drawn against a backdrop of modern America, is as good as literature gets' Sarah Sands, New Statesman, Books of the Year
Jonathan Franzen was born in 1959 and graduated from Swarthmore College. He has lived in Boston, Spain, New York, Colorado Springs and Philadelphia. His other novels are The Twenty-Seventh City, Strong Motion and The Corrections. He is also the author of How To Be Alone, a collection of non-fiction, and The Discomfort Zone, a memoir. His fiction and non-fiction appear frequently in the New Yorker and Harper's, and he was named one of the best American novelists under forty by Granta and the New Yorker. He lives in New York City.