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  1 Purity: A Novel
Author: Franzen, Jonathan
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Class: Fiction
Age: Adult
Language: English
Demand: Moderate
LC: PS3556.R

Print Run: 300000
ISBN-13: 9780374239213
LCCN: 2015010131
Imprint: Farrar Straus & Giroux
Pub Date: 09/01/2015
Availability: Available
List: $28.00
Physical Description: 563 pages ; 24 cm H 9.23", W 6.05", D 1.61", 1.82 lbs.
LC Series:
Brodart Sources: Brodart's Blockbuster List
Brodart's Insight Catalog: Adult
Brodart's TOP Adult Titles
Bibliographies: Booklist High-Demand Hot List
Fiction Core Collection, 18th ed.
Fiction Core Collection, 19th ed.
Library Journal Bestsellers
Los Angeles Times Bestsellers List
New York Times Bestsellers List
New York Times Bestsellers: Adult Fiction
Publishers Weekly Bestsellers
Awards: Booklist Editors Choice
Booklist Starred Reviews
Kirkus Best Books
Kirkus Starred Reviews
Library Journal Starred Reviews
New York Times Notable Books
School Library Journal Best Adult Books for High School Students
School Library Journal Starred Reviews
Starred Reviews: Booklist
Kirkus Reviews
Library Journal
School Library Journal
TIPS Subjects: Domestic Fiction
BISAC Subjects: FICTION / Literary
FICTION / Family Life / General
LC Subjects: Black humor (Literature)
FICTION / Family Life
FICTION / Literary
Identity (Psychology), Fiction
SEARS Subjects: Identity (Psychology), Fiction
Reading Programs:
Brodart's TOP Adult Titles | 05/01/2015
Purity, also known as Pip Tyler, is deep in student debt and squatting with anarchists when a brush with a German peace activist lands Purity an internship with a South American organization dedicated to managing the world's deepest secrets. Purity seeks the answers to her mysterious past as he falls for the company's brainchild, who challenges her long-held view of right and wrong. 576pp., 300K
Starred Reviews:
Booklist | 07/01/2015
Franzen follows Freedom (2010) with Purity, a novel in which his signature qualities converge in a new, commanding fluidity, from his inquiry into damaged families to his awed respect for nature, brainy drollery, and precise, resonant detail. Pip is a lonely and floundering young woman burdened with massive student debt and living with odd roommates in a derelict mansion in Oakland, California. She is exceedingly close to her mother, Anabel, a hermit of extreme sensitivity and incendiary secrets who steadfastly refuses to reveal the identity of Pip's father. Her daughter's actual name, Purity, is testament to Anabel's debilitating obsessions. Pip embarks on an internship with the Sunlight Project, a WikiLeaks-like group run by the charismatic Andreas Wolf, an arrogant and opportunistic East German with a shocking past. In this masterfully plotted tale populated by exceptionally complex characters caught in an ever-expanding web of startling connections and consequences, Franzen takes us to the grimly smothering world of the Stasi; franchised, feedlot-poisoned, and fracked Texas; and the Sunlight Project's Bolivian jungle hideout. As the surprising, suspenseful, archly comedic story unspools, Franzen takes measure of secrecy and transparency, altruism and selfishness, boldly paralleling the tyranny of socialism with the intrusions of the digital realm even as he asserts that "nature . . . made a mockery of information technology." Franzen has created a spectacularly engrossing and provocative twenty-first-century improvisation on Charles Dickens' masterpiece, Great Expectations. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Purity will be one of the most talked about books of the season, and a national marketing campaign will fuel the buzz. Seaman, Donna. 576p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2015.
Kirkus Reviews | 06/01/2015
A twisty but controlled epic that merges large and small concerns: loose nukes and absent parents, government surveillance and bad sex, gory murder and fine art. Purity "Pip" Tyler, the hero of Franzen's fifth novel (Freedom, 2010, etc.), is a bright college grad with limited prospects: burdened with student debt, she lives in an Oakland squat, makes cold calls at a go-nowhere job, and can't stray far from an emotionally needy mom who won't reveal who her dad is. A German visitor, Annagret, encourages Purity to intern in Bolivia for the Sunlight Project, a WikiLeaks-style hacker group headed by the charismatic Andreas Wolf. Skeptical but cornered, Purity signs on. The names alone--Purity, Wolf--make the essential conflict clear, but that just frames a story in which every character is engaged in complex moral wrestling. Chief among them is Andreas, who killed Annagret's sexually abusive stepfather and has his own issues with physical and emotional manipulation. But he's not the only one Franzen dumps into the psychosexual stew. Andreas' friend Tom Aberant is a powerful journalist saddled with self-loathing and a controlling ex-wife who detests her father's wealth; Tom's lover (and employee), Leila Helou, is a muckraker skilled enough to report on missing warheads but fumbling at her own failed marriage to Charles Blenheim, a novelist in decline. In Freedom, everybody was eager to declaim moral certitudes; here, Franzen is burrowing deep into each person's questionable sense of his or her own goodness and suggests that the moral rot can metastasize to the levels of corporations and government. And yet the novel's prose never bogs down into lectures, and its various back stories are as forceful as the main tale of Purity's fate. Franzen is much-mocked for his primacy in the literary landscape (something he himself mocks when Charles grouses about "a plague of literary Jonathans"). But here, he's admirably determined to think big and write well about our darkest emotional corners. An expansive, brainy, yet inviting novel that leaves few foibles unexplored. 576pg. KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2015.
Library Journal | 07/01/2015
Does anyone have truly pure intentions, or are most people motivated by their own needs and desires? This is one of the questions posed by Franzen (The Corrections, Freedom) in his provocative new novel, a book rich with characters searching for roots and meaning in a world of secrets and lies. Pip (Purity) Tyler is burdened with college debt, a minimum-wage job, and a needy yet withholding mother who lives as a recluse under an assumed name. The identity of Pip's father is a taboo subject. Enter the shadowy, Julian Assange-like CEO of the Sunlight Project, Andreas Wolf, purveyor of all the Internet's hidden truths. With less than pure objectives, Wolf offers Pip a researcher position at his South American headquarters. An improbable sexual cat-and-mouse game between them causes a temporary drag in the narrative, but once Pip returns stateside and is embedded in the offices of an online journal, Franzen reveals moments of absolute genius. The cathartic power of tennis; the debilitating effects of jealousy; the fickle, fleeting nature of fame; and the slow death of youthful idealism are all beautifully captured. VERDICT National Book Award winner Franzen, who often decries the state of our increasingly materialistic, high-tech society via his essays and novels, this time proffers a more hopeful, sympathetic worldview. Demand will be high. [See Prepub Alert, 3/9/15.]. Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL. 576p. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2015.
School Library Journal | 02/01/2016
At 23, Pip is trying to pay off her enormous student loan by working at a glorified call center job. She's so poor that she stays with other squatters in a dilapidated house in Oakland, CA--so maybe Pip can be forgiven for coming across a tiny bit hostile. Unfortunately, she has developed the qualities of an emotional leech, constantly seeking approval from father figures in a pathetic attempt to fill the void left by her own unidentified father. Then two Germans show up at her house, and Pip becomes part of a decades-old tangle of stories that link her mother to her father and to the enigmatic Andreas Wolf, an East German expat with a terrifying interior life. The individual tales are epic, nonlinear chronicles that brush up against one another, leaving tantalizing traces of what remains untold. Pip's mother is a mysterious personality despite her overbearing possessiveness. And Wolf has an obsession with a journalist named Tom Aberant. All of these people are vitally connected to Pip, whose youthful mix of intelligence, cynicism, and desperate yearning will hook teens. Readers with an interest in history, politics, and the implications of social media will enjoy the characters' intellectual discourse. Recommend this extraordinary novel to teens ready for a complex yet engaging read that delivers international events and trends with the same insight as the best nonfiction but is peopled with figures who will be impossible to forget. VERDICT An exceptional introduction to fine literature for mature teen readers. Diane Colson, Nashville Public Library, TN. 576p. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2016.
Journal Reviews
BookPage | 09/01/2015
Jonathan Franzen is a writer who swings for the fences, an ambition that attracts terabytes of online derision. Hold the derision. Franzen's fifth novel, Purity, is quite simply his best, most textured, most plot-driven and, oddly enough, most optimistic novel to date. The book's epigraph is a line from Goethe's Faust, uttered by Mephistopheles, the devil to whom Faust sells his soul. One of the questions Franzen, ever the unsettling, ironic, literary provocateur, wants his readers to consider is the complicated masquerade of good and evil: how the most seemingly well-intended actions sometimes arrive at evil results, how seemingly bad actors occasionally engender good, and how sometimes we don't know the difference. Purity also raises questions about feminism and male privilege, and--as in Franzen's previous bestsellers, The Corrections and Freedom --about the emotionally complicated nature of family life. A reader is free to avoid thinking about any of these questions, however. There are plenty of sharply drawn characters, fast-moving, seemingly coincidental events, beautifully rendered--often funny and satirical--observations, and excellent sentences to sustain unflagging interest. The narrative moves with astonishing confidence through time and geography, from contemporary Oakland, California, to East Germany before, during and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, to Texas and Denver and points in between. There is a murder. There is a missing nuclear warhead. There are conflicts between believers in a freewheeling, no-secrets-allowed Internet and traditional journalists bent on sourcing a story. There are fraught, intimate family dramas and heartrending betrayals. And that's just for starters. As the novel opens, its title character, Purity Tyler, known as Pip, squats in a foreclosed house in West Oakland and works as a telemarketer trying to pay down $130,000 in college debt. Her mother, an aging hippie living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, snatched her away from her father, moved to California and changed their identities when Pip was an infant. Pip, one of those young, worldly innocents, is unbearably close to her mother, walks around with a "ready-to-combust anger" and wants nothing more than to learn who her father is. A visiting German anarchist puts Pip in touch with Andreas Wolf, media sensation and founder of an outlawed idealist organization headquartered in a remote paradisaical valley in Bolivia, trying to bring the worst government secrets to light around the world. Wolf offers her an internship to help with the loan and promises computing power to help locate her father. After a flirty email exchange with the charismatic, beguiling Wolf, Pip heads for Bolivia. The plot thickens. And Purity becomes a novel that is impossible to put down--and impossible to stop thinking about once you have put it down. Alden Mudge. 576p. BOOKPAGE, c2015.
Library Journal Prepub Alert | 03/09/2015
Yes, Franzen has a new book (I'm sure you've heard), and yes, it feels a bit different from previous works, but it's still soaked in family concerns. Named Purity but called Pip, Franzen's young heroine is squatting with anarchists in Oakland and dealing with $130,000 in student debt (there's a realistic detail) while shadowboxing her way through a tough relationship with her mom. She doesn't know who her father is, but after a chance encounter with a German peace activist, she readily accepts an internship in South America with the Sunlight Project, which aims to unearth the world's secrets. (Maybe she'll learn about her dad.) The project is headed up by Andreas Wolf, who became a leading figure after the fall of the Berlin Wall but is now compelled to hide out in Bolivia. Why is he so taken with Pip, and what does this all have to say about parenting, the Internet, and the war between the sexes?. Barbara Hoffert. 592p. LJ Prepub Alert Online Review. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2015.
Publishers Weekly | 05/18/2015
Secrets are power, and power corrupts even the most idealistic in Franzen's (Freedom) exhaustive bildungsroman. Two years out of college, self-conscious, acerbic Purity "Pip" Tyler is saddled with crushing student loans and an overbearing, emotionally disturbed mother who refuses to reveal the identity of Pip's father. Living in Oakland, Calif., Pip meets and confides in beautiful German activist Annagret, who calls on her former boyfriend, Andreas Wolf, to give Pip an internship working with Wolf's cultish Sunlight Project, a WikiLeaks-like operation based in Bolivia. Once there, Pip is both flattered by and suspicious of the attention she receives from the magnetic Wolf; when she returns to America to do his bidding in secret, she becomes increasingly attached to people he may want to hurt. Pip strives to retain her integrity, but the world in which she is coming of age is, in Franzen's view, sick, its people born only to suffer and harm. Mining the connection between Pip and Wolf, Franzen renders half a dozen characters over the course of six decades, via extensive origin stories that plumb their psychological corners. Franzen succeeds more than he fails, but the failures are damning. At first, the mercurial, angry Pip and the arrogant, abrasive Wolf seem drawn to actively challenge the reader's sympathies. Then there are the novel's fathers, who are almost all abusive or absent, and its mothers, who are disturbed, cruel, or dumb. Gradually, it becomes clear that Franzen's greatest strength is his extensive, intricate narrative web--which includes a murder in Berlin, stolen nukes in Amarillo, and a billion-dollar trust. Though the novel lacks resonance, its pieces fit together with stunning craftsmanship. Agent: Susan Golomb, Susan Golomb Agency. (Sept.). 576p. Web-Exclusive Review. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2015.
Review Citations
New York Times Book Review | 08/30/2015