The Twenty-Seventh City A Novel

Jonathan Franzen




Trade Paperback

528 Pages



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St. Louis, Missouri, is a quietly dying river city until it hires a new police chief: a charismatic young woman from Bombay, India, named S. Jammu. No sooner has Jammu been installed, though, than the city's leading citizens become embroiled in an all-pervasive political conspiracy. Seen by many as a classic of contemporary fiction, The Twenty-Seventh City shows us an ordinary metropolis turned inside out, and reveals today's American Dream unraveling into terror and dark comedy.


Praise for The Twenty-Seventh City

"A novel so imaginatively and expansively of our times that it seems ahead of them."—Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

"A startling, scathing first novel about American ambition, power, politics, money, corruption and apathy."—Jeff Jarvis, People

"Franzen has managed to put together a suspense story with the elements of a complex, multilayered psychological novel . . . A riveting piece of fiction that lingers in the mind long after more conventional potboilers have bubbled away." —Peter Andrews, The New York Times Book Review

"Franzen goes for broke here—he's out to expose the soul of a city and all the bloody details of the way we live . . . A book of range, pith, intelligence."—Margo Jefferson, Vogue

"A weird hybrid of realism and fantasy: municipal science fiction. Everything proceeds from a daring, outrageously unlikely premise."—Terrence Rafferty, The New Yorker

"A remarkably accomplished first novel."—Stephen Burn, The Times Literary Supplement

"Mr. Franzen has proved with this immodestly ambitious first novel that he has talent to spare. His is a worthwhile entertainment, this picaresque tale the principal vagabond of which is its own sinuous plot."—Donna Rifkind, The Wall Street Journal

"Unsettling and visionary . . . The Twenty-Seventh City is not a novel that can be quickly dismissed or easily forgotten: it has elements of both 'Great' and "American' . . . A book of memorable characters, surprising situations, and provocative ideas."—Michele Slung, The Washington Post

"Franzen's tour de force (to call it a 'first novel' is to do it an injustice) is a sinister fun-house-mirror reflection of urban America in the 1980s . . . There's a lot of reality out there. The Twenty-Seventh City, in its larger-than-life way, is a brave and exhilarating attempt to master it."—Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times

"He has the kind of ability that can take what one would have thought the most mundane of cities and render it as an utterly persuasive labyrinth of mystery and meaning."—Mark Feeney, The Boston Sunday Globe

"An imaginative and riveting examination of our flawed society. The Twenty-Seventh City provides a rare blend of entertainment and profound social commentary."—Christine Vogel, Chicago Sun-Times

In the Press

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...


Read an Excerpt


In early June Chief William O'Connell of the St. Louis Police Department announced his retirement, and the Board of Police Commissioners, passing over the favored candidates of the city political establishment, the black community, the press, the Officers Association and the Missouri governor, selected a woman, formerly with the police in Bombay, India, to begin a five-year term as chief. The city was appalled, but the woman--one S. Jammu--assumed the post before anyone could stop her.
This was on August 1. On August 4, the Subcontinent again made the local news when the most
Read the full excerpt


  • 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.

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    Jonathan Franzen