A magnum opus for our morally complex times from the author of FREEDOM and THE CORRECTIONS
Young Pip Tyler doesn't know who she is. She knows that her real name is Purity, that she's saddled with $130,000 in student debt, that she's squatting with anarchists in Oakland, and that her relationship with her mother – her only family – is hazardous. But she doesn't have a clue who her father is, why her mother has always concealed her own real name, or how she can ever have a normal life. Enter the Germans. A glancing encounter with a German peace activist leads Pip to an internship in South America with The Sunlight Project, an organisation that traffics in all the secrets of the world – including, Pip hopes, the secret of her origins. TSP is the brainchild of Andreas Wolf, a charismatic provocateur who rose to fame in the chaos following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now on the lam in Bolivia, Andreas is drawn to Pip for reasons she doesn't understand, and the intensity of her response to him upends her conventional ideas of right and wrong. Purity is a dark-hued comedy of youthful idealism, extreme fidelity, and murder. The author of THE CORRECTIONS and FREEDOM has created yet another cast of vividly original characters, Californians and East Germans, good parents and bad parents, journalists and leakers, and he follows their intertwining paths through landscapes as contemporary as the omnipresent Internet and as ancient as the war between the sexes. Jonathan Franzen is a major author of our time, and PURITY is his edgiest and most searching book yet.
Franzen gives us another wry observation of society. This time we range from Stasi East Germany to the internet-obsessed shenanigans of today. Opening with the story of Purity (Pip), an emotionally lost, student-loan-indebted high-functioning young woman who is intent on finding out the identity of her father, we follow her to South America and the oddly named ‘Purity Project’, with its fanatical and intriguing cult-like leader Andreas Wolf. Wolf, a child of East Germany, marred by cold war politics, a minor celebrity of the collapse of The Wall, has become an enigmatic figure in the world of hacking and exposé politics. Purity takes us on a wild, rewarding, smoke-and-mirrors roller-coaster of a tale which leaves no stone unturned in its portrayal of double standards, cultism, belief and the savage – alongside the dearest and most fragile aspects – of our human psyche. Franzen gives us shades of Snowden and the lightness of knowledge. - Stella
Praise for FREEDOM: 'Deeper, funnier, sadder and truer than a work of fiction has any right to be' Independent on Sunday '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 ... 'Freedom' is a great book' Kirsty Wark Observer, 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 '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 '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 Praise for THE CORRECTIONS: 'Impossible to dislike, an unpretentious page-turner.' Zadie Smith, Guardian Book of the Year 'Jonathan Franzen has built a powerful novel out of the swarming consciousness of a marriage, a family, a whole culture - our culture. And he has done it with a sympathy and expansiveness that bends the edgy modern temper to a generous breadth of vision.' Don DeLillo 'Funny and deeply sad, large-hearted and merciless, 'The Corrections' is a testament to the range and depth of pleasures great fiction affords.' David Foster Wallace 'A book which is funny, moving, generous, brutal and intelligent, and which poses the ultimate question: what life is for? And that is as much as anyone could ask.' Guardian 'Compelling. A pleasure from beginning to end. Franzen, in one leap, has put himself into the league of Updike and Roth.' David Sexton, Evening Standard