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The Discomfort Zone A Personal History by Jonathan Franzen

The Discomfort Zone A Personal History


The Discomfort Zone A Personal History by Jonathan Franzen

A brilliant personal history from the award-winning author of `The Corrections'. Jonathan Franzen, bestselling author of `Freedom' and the highly acclaimed `The Corrections', arrived late, and last, in a family of boys in Webster Groves, Missouri. `The Discomfort Zone' is his intimate memoir of his growth from a `small and fundamentally ridiculous person,' through an adolescence both excruciating and strangely happy, into an adult with embarrassing and unexpected passions. It's also a portrait of a middle-class family weathering the turbulence of the 1970s, and a vivid personal insight into the decades in which America took an angry turn away from its mid-century ideals. He tells of the effects of Kafka's fiction on Franzen's protracted quest to lose his virginity, the elaborate pranks that he and his friends orchestrated from the roof of his high school, his self-inflicted travails in selling his mother's house after her death, the web of connections between his all-consuming marriage, the problem of global warming, and the life lessons to be learned in watching birds. Sparkling, daring and arrestingly honest, `The Discomfort Zone' is warmed by the same combination of comic scrutiny and unqualified affection that characterize Franzen's fiction. It narrates the formation of a unique mind and heart in the crucible of an everyday American family.


'His discreetly devastating comic timing derives from the tension between the optimism of his ambition and the reality of the attempts to deal with the experiences that have marked his career as one America's best novelist and essayist.'

'Franzen's memoir is cleverly written and often fun to read...He's funny and self deprecating...'
Sunday Telegraph

`Wonderful and supremely personal...
Time Magazine

'Reading such honest, awkward, tender pieces as these, the socially isolated individual may feel that little bit less lonely.'
New Statesman.

'The close of this book is almost miraculous; we are reminded that Franzen, at his best, can write like a dream.'
FT Magazine

About the Author

Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen was born in 1959 and is the author of three novels – The Twenty-Seventh City (1988), Strong Motion (1992), The Corrections (2001) – a collection of essays, How to Be Alone (2002), a memoir, The Discomfort Zone (2006) and a translation of Spring Awakening, a play by Frank Wedekind (2007). His honours include a Whiting Writers Award in 1988, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996, the American Academy's Berlin Prize in 2000, and the National Book Award (for The Corrections) in 2001. He writes frequently for the New Yorker, and lives in New York City.

Author photo © Greg Martin

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd July 2007


Jonathan Franzen

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HarperPerennial an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


256 pages


Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers
Literary studies: from c 1900 -
Biography: literary



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