Jonathan Franzen’s newest novel, “Purity,” is his most contemporary novel to date, dealing with subjects such as student debt, the Internet, hackers/leakers and murder. “Purity” is Franzen’s most worldly novel, with parts taking place in Germany and Bolivia, as well as Oakland and Denver. It is stylistically similar to his previous two novels (“The Corrections” and “Freedom”). It contains an overarching storyline with each character getting his or her own section in the novel as well. This gives the reader the most bang for the buck because reading a Franzen novel is like reading a series of interconnected novellas.
“Purity” is the name of the main character, although she goes by the shortened “Pip.” Pip graduated from college, is $130,000 in debt and is working a job she isn’t particularly fond of in order to pay it off. “Purity” then goes to Bolivia to work on the Sunshine Project for the Julian Assange-like character, Andreas Wolf. Pip is hoping that she can use the project’s resources to track down her long-lost father. Her mother has been careful to not give any hints to her father’s whereabouts and has covered her tracks to make sure that he cannot find her.
“Purity,” like “The Corrections” and “Freedom,” is a family novel, albeit more contemporary than his previous two. Readers who enjoyed “The Corrections” and “Freedom” should check out “Purity,” as should any reader who is interested in hearing one of the great American novelists take on our time. CV
Hunter Gillum graduated from The University of Iowa this May and landed his dream job one month later. He enjoys reading, literature and the Chicago Cubs.