In the Copley Formal Lounge on Tuesday, March 20, Jonathan Franzen, acclaimed novelist, will talk with Paul Elie, moderator and all-around religion expert, about Farther Away, Franzen’s most recent essay collection. According to the event page, the pair will “carry forward a conversation they began two decades ago,” so even though it starts at 4:30pm that day, do not be surprised if it takes them a while to pick up where they left off.
This forum is part of the Berkley Center’s Faith and Culture Lecture Series, which invites writers to campus to discuss how the search for truth in their work relates to search for theological truth. It is no surprise they selected Franzen: his novels, the most famous of which are The Corrections (2001) and Freedom (2010), are primarily about critiquing American culture; as for “Faith,” Franzen is often associated with a literary resurgence of straightforward pathos and conviction, as opposed to a wallowing in postmodern irony.
The forum is bound to turn to the topics that animate Farther Away. These include Franzen’s fears of a technology-addled smartphone generation, the value of privacy, the joy of rediscovering an old author consigned to oblivion, and, of course, his twin loves of bird-watching and nature conservation. A Q&A and book signing will be held afterwards.