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Jonathan Franzen: Being Named Great American Novelist Felt "Validating"

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Jonathan Franzen: Being Named Great American Novelist Felt "Validating"

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Author Jonathan Franzen, lavished with praise for his most recent tome "Freedom," revealed last night why he wasn't surprised when Time magazine named him the Great American Novelist last month.

"I sat with the photographer three weeks earlier so it was not a total shock," Franzen said Wednesday night during a reading at Barnes & Noble in Union Square, “but it was validating and nice to hear.”

Franzen's latest work is his fourth full-length novel and follows the path of a couple from their first meeting through their marriage and their reflections on family.

“I really have no opinions about the American family,” Franzen said. “I only know one and that’s filtered through an emotional underworld. I’m dubious on even my reliability on my expertise with my own family. But I do know there will always be parents. There may not always be siblings, but there will always be kids and parents.”

The author's last novel -- "The Corrections" -- was selected by Oprah for her Book Club but was later dropped when Franzen said he thought the talk show queen's seal on his work would turn off men. He declined to comment about whether he's spoken to Oprah since the 2001 incident.

After a book tour, Franzen says he will be taking some time before penning his next novel.

“It takes me a long time to write a book because I need to feel like I have something new to say,” Franzen said.  

After the book tour, Franzen said he may do more reporting on wildlife akin to the piece he wrote in July for The New Yorker about the savage hunting of birds.

“I was literally stepping out of my novelist practice and into being a journalist,” Franzen said. “It’s a big problem to get people interested in our environment, but that’s as far as I’m going to step out of being a novelist for now.”

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