Check out this protest by some writers of the coronation of Jonathan Franzen by the American literary establishment as the next Leo Tolstoy:
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.”
So why Franzen, and not (for example) Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, or Barbara Kingsolver? Gee: I wonder!
“It’s just interesting to sort of stack them up against a Lorrie Moore or against a Mona Simpson — who write books about families that are seen as excellent books about families,” Weiner says. “And then to look at a Jonathan Franzen who writes a book about a family but we are told this is a book about America.”
Now, I really liked Franzen’s The Corrections, and I asked for Freedom for my birthday this year. But Picoult and Weiner are absolutely correct. As I have argued here before American literary fiction has no room for women. Continue Reading »