What is Jonathan Franzen’s Net Worth?
Jonathan Franzen in an American novelist and essayist who has a net worth of $5 million. After moving to New York in 1987, Franzen managed to sell his first novel, “The Twenty-Seventh City”. Published in 1988, this book is set in Franzen’s hometown, St. Louis, and deals with the city’s fall from grace, St. Louis having been the “fourth city” in the 1870s. The novel established Franzen as an author to watch. His 2001 novel, “The Corrections”, a sprawling, satirical family drama, earned Franzen a National Book Award, was a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction finalist, earned a James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. “The Corrections” was an Oprah Winfrey’s book club selection and led to a much publicized feud with Winfrey. His 2010 novel, “Freedom,” led to a controversial appearance on the cover of Time magazine alongside the headline “Great American Novelist.”
Franzen was born on August 17, 1959 in Western Springs, Illinois. He is the son of Irene and Earl Franzen. He is of Swedish and Eastern European descent. He grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis, where he attended high school before enrolling at Swarthmore College. In 1981, he received his bachelor’s degree in German. During his time in college, he studied abroad in Germany. After completing his degree, he returned to Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship and stayed in Berlin from 1981 until 1982.
After returning from Germany, Franzen moved to Somerville, Massachusetts to pursue a career as a novelist. He also worked as a research assistant at Harvard University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and coauthored a number of research papers during that time.
He simultaneously began working on his first novel, “The Twenty-Seventh City.” It took him several years to finish, completing it in 1987. He then moved to New York City and was able to sell the book to Farrar Straus & Giroux, a book publishing company. The novel was published in 1988 and is set in St. Louis, Franzen’s home town. It was well received by critics, who dubbed Franzen an author to watch.
Franzen then began working on his next book, “Strong Motion,” which was published in 1992. It focused on a dysfunctional family living in the American East Coast. While not as successful as his first novel, Franzen has remained proud of the book over the years. After publishing “Strong Motion,” Franzen began teaching a fiction-writing seminar at Swarthmore College from 1992 until 1994.
Throughout the end of the 1990s, Franzen was writing what would become his most successful novel to date – “The Corrections.” The book was published in 2001 and was the recipient of numerous awards and accolades. It won the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction and the 2002 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. It was also a finalist for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Award, and the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
The book also was a considerable commercial success. In September of 2001, “The Corrections” was selected for Oprah Winfrey’s book club and Franzen was invited to appear on Oprah’s show. However, while initially pleased with the selection, Franzen later become uncomfortable as he thought perhaps men would be dissuaded from reading it, as the books selected for the club received a special logo on the cover designating the book had been selected by Winfrey. When Winfrey got word that Franzen was uncomfortable, she rescinded the invitation. This created a large amount of media attention around the book and it soon become one of the best-selling works of literary fiction of the decade.
Franzen then released “The Discomfort Zone,” a memoir,” followed by “How to Be Alone,” a book of fourteen essays. He then started working on his next novel, “Freedom.” In the year leading up to the publication of the book, he released a couple of excerpts from it that were published in “The New Yorker.” The book was published in 2010. While promoting the book, Franzen became the first American author to appear on the cover of “Time” magazine since Stephen King graced the cover in 2000. Shortly after, Oprah Winfrey announced the book was selected for her book club and Franzen made an appearance on her show to discuss the book and the past controversy over “The Corrections.” Franzen has noted several times that “Freedom” was heavily influenced by the death of his friend and fellow novelist, David Foster Wallace.
Franzen published his next novel, “Purity,” in September of 2015 and is a multigenerational American epic. The book was not nearly as successful as either “Freedom” or “The Corrections.” There was discussion of adapting the novel into a 20-hour limited series for Showtime, though the massive budget necessary to complete the project led to doubts over whether it would ever be made.
In October of 2021, Franzen’s sixth novel was published, “Crossroads.” The book is the first volume in a trilogy called “A Key to All Mythologies.” The book was well-received by major critics, some calling it Franzen’s best piece of work yet. Over his career, Franzen has become known for releasing very lengthy books and has referenced his inability to ever write a short novel.
In the early 1980s, Franzen married Valerie Cornell. The couple remained together during the beginning of Franzen’s career before their fourteen-year marriage ultimately ended in divorce. Some stories from his marriage and divorce are mentioned in the essay collection, “Farther Away.” He now is in a relationship with long-term partner, Kathy Chetkovich. They live together in Santa Cruz, California.
Franzen enjoys birdwatching and has served for nine years on the board of the American Bird Conservancy. He wrote an essay on the subject of birds, “Emptying the Skies,” which was made into a 2013 documentary film. He is also a fan of punk-rock music.