Jonathan Franzen says he was ‘the second most-hated person in America’ after Oprah row

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Jonathan Franzen is releasing a new book in October (Getty Images for The New Yorker)
Jonathan Franzen is releasing a new book in October (Getty Images for The New Yorker)

American novelist Jonathan Franzen has reflected on the impact of his book The Corrections, as it reaches its 20th anniversary.

Published in 2001, the Nineties-set critique of capitalist excess and American society was released just days before 9/11, the timing of which was described as an “uncanny coincidence”.

The novel received critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize, as well as winning the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction.

However, speaking to The Guardian, Franzen recalled the uproar he sparked after snubbing Oprah Winfrey when she selected The Corrections for her book club.

At the time, Franzen expressed ambivalence at his work being chosen because he viewed past selections as “schmaltzy”. His public remarks prompted Winfrey to disinvite him from her show; the pair ended their feud over a decade later.

In the interview, he describes being “the second most-hated person in America for a few weeks” and recalled a New York Times opinion page containing two articles, “one about evil Osama bin Laden and a piece on how terrible I was”.

Oprah Winfrey disinvited Franzen from her TV show after his comments about her book club (Getty Images)
Oprah Winfrey disinvited Franzen from her TV show after his comments about her book club (Getty Images)

Nine years after the fallout, in 2010, the pair reconciled when Franzen published his next novel, Freedom, which Winfrey picked as her first Oprah Book Club selection.

Franzen’s new book, Crossroads, will be released by HarperCollins on 5 October.

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