If you're anything like me (which, God help you, you aren't), you spend your New Year's Eve holiday sitting quietly at home, sipping a white wine spritzer or Sazerac, fondly ruminating over the best books you've read in any given year. This year, Franzen's latest, Purity, eclipses by far and away any other candidate. It's love, lust, and lunacy packaged in writing so clean and sharp you'll be almost surprised when you reach the end and discover that you're still yourself, and not one of the novel's fascinating, flesh and blood characters. Nobody captures character depth and complexity like he does, and the plot is as rich and unpredictable as any of the bestselling mysteries you read this year but that you'll never remember. It's one of those Big Books that will snatch a month of your life away, but will leave in its wake the recollection of a literary experience only an author like Franzen can deliver.— Joel
A New York Times bestselling magnum opus for our morally complex times from the author of Freedom
Young Pip Tyler doesn't know who she is. She knows that her real name is Purity, that she's saddled with $130,000 in student debt, that she's squatting with anarchists in Oakland, and that her relationship with her mother--her only family--is hazardous. But she doesn't have a clue who her father is, why her mother chose to live as a recluse with an invented name, or how she'll ever have a normal life.
Enter the Germans. A glancing encounter with a German peace activist leads Pip to an internship in South America with The Sunlight Project, an organization that traffics in all the secrets of the world--including, Pip hopes, the secret of her origins. TSP is the brainchild of Andreas Wolf, a charismatic provocateur who rose to fame in the chaos following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now on the lam in Bolivia, Andreas is drawn to Pip for reasons she doesn't understand, and the intensity of her response to him upends her conventional ideas of right and wrong.
Purity is a grand story of youthful idealism, extreme fidelity, and murder. The author of The Corrections and Freedom has imagined a world of vividly original characters--Californians and East Germans, good parents and bad parents, journalists and leakers--and he follows their intertwining paths through landscapes as contemporary as the omnipresent Internet and as ancient as the war between the sexes. Purity is the most daring and penetrating book yet by one of the major writers of our time.
About the Author
Jonathan Franzen is the author of four other novels, most recently The Corrections and Freedom, and five works of nonfiction and translation, including Farther Away and The Kraus Project, all published by FSG. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie der Kunste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.