Jonathan Franzen Wanted to Adopt an Iraqi War Orphan, But His Editor Talked Him Out of It

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Jonathan Franzen. Photo: Brent N. Clarke/FilmMagic

Get ready for a lot of interesting Jonathan Franzen quotes, guys! Franzen’s forthcoming novel Purity is out September 1, which means he’s on a press tour. In an interview with The Guardian, the novelist talks about how he once considered adopting an Iraqi orphan as a way to understand the younger generation. “Oh, it was insane, the idea that Kathy [his partner] and I were going to adopt an Iraqi war orphan. The whole idea lasted maybe six weeks,” he said. “One of the things that had put me in mind of adoption was a sense of alienation from the younger generation. They seemed politically not the way they should be as young people. I thought people were supposed to be idealistic and angry. And they seemed kind of cynical and not very angry. At least not in any way that was accessible to me.” Fortunately, a sensible editor, Henry Finder at The New Yorker, suggested that he meet with some college students instead. “It cured me of my anger at young people,” Franzen said. This is a good example of why every writer needs a good editor.

Jonathan Franzen Wanted to Adopt an Iraqi Orphan