When some reviewers labelled Crossroads as Jonathan Franzen’s “greatest and most perfect novel to date”, that’s no small claim.
Across his career, Franzen has been celebrated as one of his generation’s champions of the form, from The Corrections to Purity or Freedom, a new Jonathan Franzen novel is an event.
But Crossroads proved to be irresistible: one of the books of the summer. And his sweeping, expansive story of the Hildebrandt family in 1970s Chicago is only the beginning. In George Eliot’s masterpiece Middlemarch, the name ‘A Key to All Mythologies’ is a joke: the unfinished manuscript of the pedantic, self-absorbed Reverend Casaubon.
So when Franzen announced that Crossroads was to be the first in a projected trilogy that would constitute his ‘Key to All Mythologies’ and cover half a century of American life, in lesser hands the prospect might be daunting or risible. But Franzen’s exploration of faith and family, hope and loss, grief and striving across generations and against the backdrop of historical change is as satisfying as it is ambitious.
Now, Franzen is coming to Sydney live and in-person, and for one night only you can see him discussing the power of the novel, his singular contribution to it as a form, and what brought him to Crossroads with the Festival’s outgoing Artistic Director, Michael Williams.