Jonathan Franzen is the author of a series of novels that have been highly praised as masterpieces for their acute observations and relentless analyses of American culture. He has been identified as a Midwesterner since he was catapulted to fame by his novel The Corrections (2001), the story of a family with often-cited parallels to his own upbringing in Webster Groves, Missouri; yet the city was a focus of his first novel, The Twenty-Seventh City (1988), set in St. Louis, and his second, Strong Motion (1992), set in Boston. Franzen’s other books include How to Be Alone (2002), a volume of essays; The Discomfort Zone (2006), a memoir; Farther Away (2012), a nonfiction collection; and The Kraus Project (2013), his translations of short pieces by Austrian satirist Karl Kraus. In 2010, when his novel Freedom came out, Franzen’s portrait appeared on the cover of Time magazine, which hailed him as the “Great American Novelist.” Franzen’s most recent novel, Purity (2015), has been adapted for television as a series for Showtime, beginning in 2017. His lecture will be hosted by Diane Davis, Charles Dyer Norton Professor of Regional Planning and Urbanism, chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design, and—like Franzen—a St. Louis native.
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