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Jonathan Franzen introduces Purity

Jonathan Franzen introduces Purity

The American author on the idealism of youth and taking his fiction to darker, harder places

Posted on 24th August 2015 by Jonathan O'Brien


"There is no subject to me funnier," says Jonathan Franzen, "Than the idealism of youth. It's an intrinisically hilarious subject. But when you play it out over time, it's not always so funny."

Purity, Franzen's latest entry into his ongoing series of Great American Novels, is about Pip Tyler, a young woman hoping to figure out who she is. She doesn't know her father and her mother has secrets which Pip wants to know the answers to. Why has Pip grown up in a secluded mountain cabin and why has her mother taken an invented name?

But Purity isn't the sort of novel that's solely about character and nothing much happens. 

"There’s a murder," says Franzen. "There’s a missing nuclear warhead. There's a lot of really wrenching stuff in the book. I was trying to dig in to the really hot places I had not dared to go before. Because I worried that the reader might not necessarily want to go to some of these darker, harder, rawer places, I decided to give it a plot so they couldn’t put it down. Even if you finished it and said, ‘Woah, what was that?’ at least you’d have the pleasure of being drawn along."

Purity is published on September 1st and, very excitingly, we currently have a limited number of signed editions available on our website.