Franzen Lives In Denial of His Fame, Or Tries To

In News by Adam Critchley

Jonathan Franzen at BEA 2015 (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP)

Jonathan Franzen (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP)

Speaking at the Guadalajara Book Fair, Jonathan Franzen was self-deprecating about his global literary fame.

By Adam Critchley

Asked about fame as a writer, and whether it is a hindrance and a distraction, raising reader expectations at the moment of writing a book, author Jonathan Franzen said he tries to live in denial of his fame, but without always succeeding.

“I feel like it’s something good, the fact that fame is a measure of success, and I am therefore succeeding, which is nice after having spent forty years in obscurity,” he said at the Guadalajara International Book Fair to present the Spanish-language edition of his novel Purity.

“But I live in denial of it,” he said.

He then proceeded to tell anecdotes illustrating his relationship with fame, such as the time he was scheduled to have a colonoscopy, prohibiting from ingesting any food for 24 hours prior to the procedure.

“The only thing I was permitted to eat during that time was sugar-free Jell-O. So I went to the supermarket and bought four packages. As I was putting them on the conveyor to pay, and looking a wreck, a voice behind me said ‘I love your books.’ It was perhaps the least fortunate time to be recognized,” he said.

He also said that during his book tour to promote Purity he visited some of the same cities and venues that he had visited in 2010 when he was promoting Freedom.

“In one place, in the same venue I had been in five years previously, I noticed there were fewer people. It may have been that there was a Republican debate or something on the TV that night, but I still noticed. There were fewer people,” he said.

About the Author

Adam Critchley

Adam Critchley is a Mexico-based freelance writer and translator. His articles have been published in Latin American Literature Today, Brando, Forbes, GQ, Gatopardo, Publishers Weekly, Travesías and Vinísfera, among other publications, and his short stories have appeared in The Brooklyn Review, El Puro Cuento and Storyteller-UK. His translations include a series of children's books based on indigenous Mexican folk tales. He can be contacted at