The Corrections A Novel

Jonathan Franzen




Trade Paperback

576 Pages


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Winner of the National Book Award
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist
New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
American Library Association Notable Book

The Corrections is a grandly entertaining novel for the new century—a comic, tragic masterpiece about a family breaking down in an age of easy fixes.

After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson's disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man—or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home.

Stretching from the Midwest at midcentury to the Wall Street and Eastern Europe of today, The Corrections brings an old-fashioned world of civic virtue and sexual inhibitions into violent collision with the era of home surveillance, hands-off parenting, do-it-yourself mental health care, and globalized greed. Richly realistic and darkly hilarious, it confirms Jonathan Franzen as one of our most brilliant interpreters of American society and the American soul.


Praise for The Corrections

"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

"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 sympathy and expansiveness that bend the edgy modern temper to a generous breadth of vision."—Don DeLillo

"In its complexity, its scrutinizing and utterly unsentimental humanity, and its grasp of the subtle relationships between domestic drama and global events, The Corrections stands in the company of Mann's Buddenbrooks and DeLillo's White Noise. It is a major accomplishment."—Michael Cunningham

"Looms as a model for what ambitious storytelling can still say about modern life."—San Francisco Chronicle

"The Corrections is the brightest, boldest, and most ambitious novel I've read in many years. With this dazzling work, Franzen gives notice that from now on, he is only going to hunt with the big cats."—Pat Conroy

"You will laugh, wince, groan, weep, leave the table and maybe the country, promise never to go home again, and be reminded of why you read serious fiction in the first place . . . Wordplay worthy of Nabokov . . . Tiny, revelatory gestures . . . Magically precise images . . . Knowing one-liners . . . Franzen writes with convincing authority about the minutiae of railroads, clothing, medicine, economics, industry, cuisine, and Eastern European politics, and he knows just when to push his conceits over the top . . . But he also knows his way around more intimate territory . . . No one book, of course, can provide everything we want in a novel. But a book as strong as The Corrections seems ruled only by its own self-generated aesthetic: it creates the illusion of giving a complete account of a world, and while we're under its enchantment it temporarily eclipses whatever else we may have read. But I guess that is everything we want in a novel—except, when it's rocking along, for it never to be over."—The New York Times Book Review

"What we're asking is whether Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections will become that rare thing, a literary work that everybody's reading? A lot of people are saying yes."—Time

"The last 100 pages of The Corrections is an unforgettably sad, indelibly beautiful piece of literature . . . [Franzen] is a writer with talent to burn."—Newsweek

"The novel of the year."—Fortune

"Franzen is a wizard, endlessly inventive in his thematic connections and scene setting . . . The Corrections is a wide-open performance showcasing the full range of his skills and his eclectic intelligence . . . [It] recalls no novel so much as John Cheever's The Wapshot Scandal. The Corrections is just as funny and sad and smart as that masterpiece, and Franzen, like Cheever, reminds us of the timelessness of human folly."—Stewart O'Nan, The Atlantic Monthly

"Dazzling . . . electric . . . There's something thrilling, heartening, and inspiring about seeing life revealed so accurately, so transparently—and finally, so forgivingly."—Francine Prose, O magazine

" 'Honestly' hype[d] . . . novel of extraordinary merit . . . Franzen's ability to infuse each character with such appealing vulnerability. Which, of course, is the redemptive hat trick of great literature: The Lamberts may be humming with unhappiness, but we are left humming with their—and our own—humanity."—Vogue

"Let's not mince words or pussyfoot with fancy lit-crit lingo. This is a great book. It needs to be read . . . A panoramic work that frequently zeroes in, with almost claustrophobic clarity, on human foibles . . . A huge, ambitious, powerful, funny, imaginative yet realistic novel. This book is a gift."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"A big, showy powerhouse of a novel, revved up with ideas but satisfyingly beholden to the traditions of character and plot . . . Smart and boisterous and beautifully paced . . . Franzen's epic study in irony suggests Wolfe running into Don DeLillo . . . The greatest strength of The Corrections, and there are many, is its skillful narrative relativism, the way it delivers one version of the truth about a character, then fleshes out that reality over time into something larger and more complex . . . His rendering [of the autumnal prairie of millennial America] is frighteningly, luminously authentic."—The Boston Globe

"[Combines] the deadpan dazzle and intricate ironies of Don DeLillo with the more homey concerns of Anne Tyler . . . There is bravura writing here, wizardly wordplay, sharp insights."—The Dallas Morning News

"Remarkable and possibly unprecedented: a merciless satirical look at contemporary life that is also fundamentally generous and humane."—

"Wondrously devastating . . . In prose that is by turns suspenseful, brooding, and, oh yes, compassionate, Franzen unrolls the huge, bleak panorama of the Lamberts' past and present lives, their temptations, failures, mistakes and false hopes, their intimate acquaintance with the hot flash of selfishness and the sharp bitterness of rue."—The Miami Herald

"Remarkable . . . The best comparisons are to David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and Don DeLillo's Underworld . . . but The Corrections has more heart."—The Oregonian (Portland)

"A big, intelligent and mostly compassionate novel that's so much fun one hates to see it end . . . A novel of our times . . . Think of the book as a blend of postmodern meganovel and Victorian family saga."—The News and Observer (Raleigh)

"The best American novel published to date this year."—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"More engaging and readable than other chilly magnum opuses in the same league . . . Unlike his Big Book peers, [Franzen] wants things tidy—not in the middle, maybe, but at the end. The chaos-theory math wizards of antimatter fiction don't often show such good manners, such politeness, and it's touching to find it here. Not just dazzle—warmth."—GQ

"Agreeably accessible, . . . poised halfway between postmodern chic and plain old-fashioned storytelling. It sucks you into the vortex of family life, the whirling blend of happy and unhappy; it lands you in the sticky goo of mingled love and hate. What Mr. Franzen does—brilliantly— is to risk sentimentality to get at emotional truth."—Adam Begley, The New York Observer

"[The Corrections is] Franzen's most autobiographical novel, his most engrossing (do not be surprised to find yourself trying to read it all in one sitting), and, stylistically, his most lyrical. In its gorgeous, sweeping scope and the sympathy of its tone, it owes 0more to Tolstoy than to Pynchon, but ultimately the novel offers up pleasures that are utterly Franzenian; a sense of exhilaration permeates The Corrections, which is, in part, the exhilaration of a writer who has broken free of his masters."—Poets and Writers

In the Press

Work in Progress » Blog Archive » Jonathan Franzen: Comma-Then
Jonathan Franzen is the author of four novels (Freedom, The Corrections, Strong Motion, and The Twenty-Seventh City), a collection of essays (How to Be Alone), a personal history (The Discomfort Zone), and a translation of Frank Wed...
Work in Progress » Blog Archive » Jonathan Franzen on Author Videos and the Novel
We are very excited about Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, his first novel since The Corrections. He recently stopped by our office to discuss the ideas behind his book, why reading is the opposite of multitasking, and how very odd it can be for authors to appear on video.
Work in Progress » Blog Archive » How to Read a Novelist
Jonathan Franzen by John Freeman Last week in Work in Progress we brought you John Freeman's conversation with Jeffrey Eugenides as the first of an exclusive two-part preview of Freeman's How to Read a Novelist, his book of more than fifty author profiles coming from FSG Origina...


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Jonathan Franzen is the author of The Twenty-Seventh City, Strong Motion, and the essay collection How to Be Alone. He has been named one of the Granta 20 Best Novelists under 40 and is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and Harper's. He lives in New York City.
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  • Jonathan Franzen

  • Jonathan Franzen is the author of four novels—Freedom, The Corrections, The Twenty-Seventh City, and Strong Motion—and two works of nonfiction, How to Be Alone and The Discomfort Zone. He has been named one of the Granta 20 Best Novelists under 40 and is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and Harper's. He lives in New York City and Santa Cruz, California.
  • Jonathan Franzen Greg Martin
    Jonathan Franzen




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