Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Developing a full-blown case of 'Franzenfreude' // NPR asks whether the glowing reviews of Jonathan Franzen's new novel are due in part to his gender

Back on August 12, New Creation let you know about Time magazine's placement of Jonathen Franzen on it's cover - the first time in a decade that the esteemed magazine has had a living novelist grace its front. That was on the early end of what is becoming a kind of perfect literary storm surrounding Franzen's new novel Freedom (released today, August 31). Time hailed Franzen a "Great American Writer" and also lauded praise on his new book. On August 19th over at The New York Times, book review editor Sam Tanenhaus declared the book "a masterpiece" and compares Franzen to such transcendent literary luminaries as Leo Tolstoy and Thomas Mann.

But now, NPR reveals another side to this tsunami of critical praise (and soon-to-be-seen commercial success) of Franzen and his new book. In "Feminist Franzenfreude over Raves for 'Freedom'" Lynn Neary of NPR's All Things Considered reports that many high profile female authors feel that Franzen's glowing reviews are due in no small part to his gender. It's a provocative, thoughtful and well-reported piece that deserves attention.
-- Leif

Read or Listen to the Article in Full Here from NPR // Excerpt Below

by Lynn Neary

Jonathan Franzen has a way of making people mad. When his last novel, The Corrections, was picked by Oprah Winfrey for her book club, Franzen made it known that he was not comfortable with the populist honor — so Oprah withdrew the offer. This time around a couple of best-selling female writers, Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner, have tweeted their disdain for what they see as critical fawning over Franzen's new novel, Freedom.

Weiner has even come up with a phrase to describe her feelings: Franzenfreude. "Schadenfreude is taking pleasure in the pain of others," Weiner says. "Franzenfreude is taking pain in the multiple and copious reviews being showered on Jonathan Franzen."

But her angst is not just about the book — or even about Franzen himself. It's about the establishment choosing one writer and writing about him again and again and again," Weiner says, "while they are ignoring a lot of other worthy writers and, in the case of The New York Times, entire genres of books."

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