American novelist Jonathan Franzen: I have a hard-time writing about myself

Friday, 17 January 2014 - 4:39pm IST | Place: Jaipur | Agency: DNA

A full house braved the Jaipur early morning cold to listen to star American novelist  Jonathan Franzen speak to journalist-author Chandrahas Choudhury on Friday at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival.

"You know, these lights give heat; I have the best seats in this place," Franzen began, striking a light-hearted note in a conversation that concentrated on his craft. How does he write, how does he choose his subjects, why does he write as he does were some of the questions Choudhury and members of the audience wanted to know of Franzen.

"I have a hard-time writing about myself," Franzen said, explaining why he chose to focus on the family in his novels, instead of the individual or his own experience. The social-realist novel that arose in the19th century, he felt, the fruit of the modernist enterprise, had laid the paradigm of the narrative form.

"I am trying to reclaim that lost ground," he said of his own craft. "Of course, Robinson Crusoe, the first novel, was about a single man spent 20 years by himself on an island!" he said.     

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