Jonathan Franzen

Seattle Arts & Lectures begins its fall series with President Obama’s favorite beach read—Freedom (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28), by Jonathan Franzen. Have we read it? No, we’ve been too busy withdrawing combat troops from Iraq and fixing our broken economy. The 562-page novel charts the various grievances, memories, and connections among a family in St. Paul, Minnesota. Are the Berglunds guilty liberals or closet conservatives, gentrifying yuppies or destroyers of community? Possibly all those things at the same time. Franzen, in his first novel since 2001’s The Corrections, is again aiming big, addressing the economy, politics, the environment, and even the Iraq War. The title is both a concept and a piece of disputed turf—a battleground where swollen notions of personal liberty clash with fragile social bonds. BRIAN MILLER

Tue., Sept. 14, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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