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America’s new literary generation

Jonathan Franzen came of age at the same time as the internet. But he and his peers are more 19th century than 21st, says Richard Beck

By Richard Beck   May 2012

Jonathan Franzen is the most famous and influential writer of his generation—so why can’t he stop complaining?

Farther Away By Jonathan Franzen (Fourth Estate, £16.99)

Lightning Rods By Helen DeWitt (And Other Stories, published 1st October 2012)

Only five years ago, Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace, and Jeffrey Eugenides were seen as simply a group of middle-aged American novelists. In 2008, however, David Foster Wallace committed suicide. In the flood of eulogies, remembrances, and appreciations that followed, a new consensus rapidly emerged: Wallace and his peers, it was agreed, constituted an American literary generation. What Bellow, Updike, and Roth had…

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