Jonathan Franzen's new novel "Crossroads" received a surprisingly positive review from critic Frank Guan in the current Book Forum.
Guan pointed out that his millennial generation disparages Franzen as a fatuous, out-of-touch baby boomer. Franzen received the National Book Award for his acclaimed 2001 novel "The Corrections" but "Freedom" in 2010 drew mixed reviews and "Purity" in 2015 was considered a failure.
Franzen stirred controversy by generating a feud with Oprah Winfrey over her book club, which he claimed boosts commercialism over literary value. In recent years, his essay "What If We Stopped Pretending" argued that climate change is unavoidable, angering environmentalists.
Guan says that while Franzen holds on to a loyal, aging audience, his recent novels and support for the white-male literary establishment have alienated younger readers.
But Guan extravagantly praises "Crossroads," heralding Franzen's return to the multi-generational family dynamics that made "The Corrections" a major achievement.
"Crossroads" is the first book in a trilogy to be called "A Key to All Mythologies," which at first raises Guan's suspicions. He dismisses those doubts by asserting that "'The Corrections' was a masterpiece, but 'Crossroads" is his finest novel yet."
The review ends with expectations that the triology's succeeding volumes will be even more accomplished.