Discipline: Literature

Jonathan Franzen

Discipline: Literature
Region: Santa Cruz, CA
MacDowell Fellowships: 1993, 1996, 1997

Jonathan Franzen is an American novelist and essayist whose sprawling multilayered novels about contemporary America have elicited critical acclaim. He grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and later attended Swarthmore College. After earning a B.A. in 1981, he attended Berlin’s Freie Universität as a Fulbright fellow. Upon his return to the United States he began his first novel, writing for eight hours each day. To earn money he worked weekends as a research assistant at Harvard University tracking earthquake activity around the world.

His novels include The Twenty-seventh City (1988); Strong Motion (1992); The Corrections (2001), which he worked on at MacDowell, and which focuses on a family of five whose members endure unsuccessful marriages, strained familial relationships, and failed careers. The novel received extensive critical praise, winning a National Book Award in 2001. Franzen contributed a series of essays to The New Yorker magazine that were later compiled into his fourth book, How to Be Alone (2002). He has also written Freedom (2010), which focuses on a contemporary family of the American Midwest and probes its members’ relationships with each other and those around them, and Purity (2015).



Jonathan Franzen worked in the Schelling studio.

Marian MacDowell funded construction of this studio the year that the organization was established and the first artists arrived for residency. It was called Bark Studio until 1933, when it was renamed in honor of Ernest Schelling, a composer, pianist, and orchestral leader who served as president of what was then called the Edward MacDowell…

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