Jonathan Franzen vs. Ian McEwan: Whose Books Do You Prefer?

 Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections, talks to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph today about his latest book, the much-hyped Freedom. In the interview, he opens up about his many feuds, including his most famous one with Oprah Winfrey (which he’s recently settled).

But the Time Magazine-anointed “Great American Novelist” has been involved in a somewhat one-sided scrap with Ian McEwan, whom many might call “The Great British Novelist.” It appears that Franzen took umbrage when McEwan singled out Philip Roth as “the only major American novelist left.” Franzen has taken a bit of revenge on McEwan in Freedom, having one of his characters described as “struggling to get through” the British novelist’s most famous work, Atonement.

Franzen says he has since fallen for McEwan’s charms, however: “The first thing I did was send him a galley of Freedom as soon as it was out. Yesterday I got an incredibly sweet note from him – in spite of having a little dig at him in the book. He was wonderfully generous and now of course I’m totally disarmed. I think he must be a really nice guy. Did he say something about American novelists? I don’t remember!”

In honor of this remarkable non-feud, we’re setting up a transatlantic battle between these national icons – a Clash of the Titans, if you will. So tell us – which of these authors do you prefer? I was equally a fan of both The Corrections and Atonement (although the film version of the latter left me cold and even made me question how much I enjoyed the source material).

by Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself—he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri—he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.
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