As the book world prepared for the release of Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (audio book read by David LeDoux), bestselling authors Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult cried foul at the amount of publicity he is getting.
Jennifer Weiner & Jodi Picoult
Weiner is the undeniable Queen of Chick Lit. She has had many novels on the NY Times Bestsellers List and two of her novels have been made into movies.
Picoult has also set up camp on the NYT list several times and has also had her work made into movies, most famously My Sister’s Keeper starring Cameron Diaz. Both have millions of fans who religiously buy their novels. Yet they do not receive the same attention as Franzen.
Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
The Corrections was Franzen’s last masterpiece – probably most famous for declining Oprah’s invitation to be a Book Club selection. He basically dissed her club and did not want his work associated with it. He didn’t suffer from the lack of her endorsement. The Corrections sold millions of copies.
The New York Times, Time magazine and pretty much every other literary resource on the planet have featured Freedom over the last couple of weeks. Franzen was even on the cover of Time magazine. Ostensibly because of the nature of his status as a writer of literary fiction, he has been praised in copious amounts.
Weiner and Picoult are among a class of authors called “commercial”. Their works are popular fiction and despite bestselling status, are not appreciated in the same way that literary fiction is. The two authors have taken this one step further and suggested that women authors of popular fiction are not taken seriously.
Weiner and Picoult, in an interview with the Huffington Post, discussed the double standard in the publishing industry, pointing out that when a man writes about family and emotions it’s “literature”, but when women do, it’s considered romance or a beach read and not worthy of critical acclaim. They do not claim to take issue against Franzen, but the publicity that he is receiving. His book was reviewed twice in the NYTimes last week. That is unprecedented coverage.
Do You Agree?
I agree that the fuss over Franzen is over-the-top. But I’m not about to jump on the bandwagon that Weiner and Picoult play on the same field. I do NOT say this because they are women. I believe, for example, that Margaret Atwood is one of the greatest authors of all time – in my opinion, she has more talent than Picoult and Weiner combined. I just don’t think that Picoult and Weiner’s work is of the same quality… They’re popular… but that doesn’t mean they are good.
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