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