Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen is a New York City- and Santa Cruz, California-based novelist and essayist.

Selected Works:

Freedom, The Corrections, How to Be Alone


2001 National Book Award (The Corrections); 2001 Pulitzer Prize finalist (The Corrections); PEN/Faulkner Award finalist (The Corrections)

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Which one or two American books or plays would you recommend to the foreign leaders?

The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald

East of Eden John Steinbeck

Who in your childhood—for example, parent or teacher—encouraged you to read books, and which one or two books do you remember most fondly?

My parents encouraged me, but I didn't need much encouragement—I took to books right away. Much later, in college, I had a great German Literature teacher who encouraged me to take literature personally and thereby changed my life.

Which books by writers of the other G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, Russia) have affected you as a reader and/or been most important to you as a writer?

Too many to list. More than half of the hundreds of books that have been important to me originated in a G8 country. A few highlights:

War and Peace Leo Tolstoy

The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Magic Mountain Thomas Mann

A Personal Matter Kenzaburō Ōe

The Confessions of Zeno Italo Svevo

In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust

The Beggar Maid Alice Munro

Bleak House Charles Dickens

What is the Power of the Word Exhibit?

Power of the Word: Leaders, Readers and Writers is the first online exhibition of The American Writers Museum. As world leaders gather in the U.S. this spring, The American Writers Museum Foundation is inviting American writers and readers to explore the power of the word and join in a discussion of how American books can help readers in other parts of the world better understand our culture.

Leaders Gallery

An exploration into what some of the world’s most powerful leaders like to read, and how reading has influenced them.

Writers Gallery

American writers comment on their early experiences with reading and name the books they think world leaders should read in order to better understand American culture.

Readers Gallery

An interactive, open forum where readers are invited to join the discussion by answering the question: Which American works of literature do you think leaders from other nations should read in order to gain a better understanding of America?

We would like to thank our exhibit sponsors for their generous support:


What is The American Writers Museum?

The mission of The American Writers Museum Foundation is to establish the first national museum in the United States dedicated to engaging the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture and our daily lives. Learn more at