Crossroads: A Novel

Category: Book
By (author): Franzen, Jonathan
Subject:  FICTION / Coming of Age
  FICTION / Family Life
  FICTION / General
  FICTION / Literary
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Published: October 2022
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 592
Size: 8.25in x 5.50in x 1.18in
Our Price:
$ 24.00
In stock

Additional Notes


Jonathan Franzen's gift for wedding depth and vividness of character with breadth of social vision has never been more dazzlingly evident than in Crossroads.

It's December 23, 1971, and the Hildebrandt family is at a crossroads. The patriarch, Russ, the associate pastor of a suburban Chicago church, is poised to break free of a marriage he finds joyless-unless his brilliant and unstable wife, Marion, breaks free of it first. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college afire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem's sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high school class, has veered into the era's counterculture, while their younger brother Perry, fed up with selling pot to support his drug habit, has firmly resolved to be a better person. Each of the Hildebrandts seeks a freedom that each of the others threaten to complicate.

By turns comic and harrowing, a tour-de-force of interwoven perspectives and sustained suspense, Crossroads is the first volume of a trilogy, A Key to All Mythologies, that will span three generations and trace the inner life of our culture through the present day. Set in a historical moment of moral crisis and reaching back to the early twentieth century, Crossroads is a sweeping investigation of human mythologies as the Hildebrandt family navigates the political, intellectual, and social crosscurrents of the past fifty years.

Named a most anticipated book of the season by
The New York Times ● USA Today Oprah Daily TIME Entertainment Weekly Vulture Los Angeles Times San Francisco Chronicle Town & Country The Guardian Newsday The Star Tribune Lit Hub Thrillist

Named one of the best books of 2021 by
Publishers Weekly • Kirkus Reviews • The New York Times Book Review Washington Post  • Financial Times  • The Telegraph  • NPR • TIME • Winnipeg Free Press • The Guardian • Good Housekeeping  • Town & Country • Daily Mail • Slate Oprah Daily • Amazon

"A compelling examination of faith, privilege and ambition." -TIME

"Crossroads is told very well. . . . It's Franzen's most sympathetic and most character-driven novel. . . .  Gripping. . . . In Crossroads, Franzen sets out to track nothing less than the evolution of an American Dream, from its optimistic peak in the early 1970s to its stark, dark, sad and relentlessly split pessimism today." -The Globe and Mail

"Brims with agile writing. . . . Crossroads is a testament not to the singularity of the '70s but to the decade's continuity with our own. The novel's emotional dishevelments-and its aura of apprehensive urgency-feel viscerally contemporary. If not for the resounding absence of the internet, we could almost forget that the year is supposed to be 1971. . . . A marvelous novel." -The Atlantic

"[A] pleasure bomb of a novel. . . . New prospects are what keep [Crossroads] so engrossing, each section expanding on and deepening the poignancy of what has come before. . . . Few [writers] can take human contradiction and make it half as entertaining and intimate as Franzen does. . . . A magnificent portrait of an American family on the brink of implosion. . . . Crossroads is Act I of what's bound to be an American classic." -Vogue

"A mellow, marzipan-hued '70s-era heartbreaker. Crossroads is warmer than anything [Franzen has] yet written, wider in its human sympathies, weightier of image and intellect. . . .  Franzen threads these stories, and their tributaries, so adeptly and so calmly that at moments he can seem to be on high-altitude, nearly Updikean autopilot. . . . The Franzen-shaped hole in our reading lives is like a bog that floods at roughly eight-year intervals. This time that bog is shot through with intimations of light." -Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"Superb. . . . As with the best of Franzen's fiction, the characters in Crossroads are held up to the light like complexly cut gems and turned to reveal facet after facet. . . . [An] enveloping novel, facilitated by neatly turned plot elements . . . . Franzen has created characters of almost uncanny authenticity. Is there anything more a great novelist ought to do?" -Slate

"Thank God for Jonathan Franzen. . . . With its dazzling style and tireless attention to the machinations of a single family, Crossroads is distinctly Franzen-esque, but it represents a marked evolution, a new level of discipline and even a deeper sense of mercy. . . . An electrifying examination of the irreducible complexities of an ethical life. With his ever-parsing style and his relentless calculation of the fractals of consciousness, Franzen makes a good claim to being the 21st century's Nathaniel Hawthorne. . . . A story of spiritual crises with a narrative range more expansive than Marilynne Robinson's Gilead novels." -The Washington Post

"A breezily written family drama with plenty of plot and a touch of melodrama. . . . So compelling. . . . [Crossroads] is carefully wrought, its neatly balanced architecture another clandestine source of its power." -Kathryn Schulz, author of Lost & Found, for The New Yorker

"Absorbing. . . . [Franzen creates] a complex world of multi-dimensional characters grappling with believable problems and moral dilemmas, the kind that flesh-and-blood people deal with every day. . . . The Hildebrandts . . . could be Franzen's best conceived and sympathetically portrayed family of the several memorable ones that have populated his six novels to date." -Winnipeg Free Press

"Splendid. . . . Franzen lays on a lavish spread of self-doubt and dysfunction, simmering tensions, heaped indignity, the sort of fraught festive gathering everyone can relate to. Crossroads is expansive and funny; a pure pleasure to read. . . . Franzen has laid the ground beautifully, and his first act is intoxicating-a luxuriant domestic drama that opens out into politics, running against the grain of the counterculture with its focus on the friction between conservatism and radicalism, Christianity and social activism." -The Guardian

"Franzen is a master of rendering the broad sweep of humanity through the (extremely human) minutia of a family. In Crossroads, I felt and frustration and fondness for the Hildebrandts so deep it was almost familial. This is, perhaps, his greatest skill as a writer. . . . What more could a reader ask for, really?" -Literary Hub

"[A] superb domestic epic. . . . Franzen's faith in fiction as a means to get at questions of goodness and righteousness is unshakable." -USA Today

"[Crossroads] is peak Franzen, with richly created characters, conflicts and plot. . . . The writing is a marvel. . . . You feel throughout like you're in the hands of a very confident storyteller and the joy of the novel is going along for the journey with each character as they make choices and live with the consequences." -Associated Press News

"Franzen returns with a sweeping and masterly examination of the shifting culture of early 1970s America, the first in a trilogy. . . . As complications stack up for the Hildebrandts, they each confront temptation and epiphany, failure and love. Throughout, Franzen exhibits his remarkable ability to build suspense through fraught interpersonal dynamics. It's irresistible." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Crossroads is one of [Franzen's] best. Funny, moving, crackling with life, it has what all great fiction should have: a generosity towards (if not necessarily a liking for) its characters, and a capacity to be in two minds, both about itself and the world it describes. . . . A great novel." -Financial Times

"Franzen's breadth remains extraordinary. . . . The world he builds is lush and complicated, immersive and alive." -Los Angeles Times

"[A] masterful, Tolstoian saga. . . . Franzen adroitly portrays eternal generational conflicts. . . . This masterpiece of social realism vividly captures each character's internal conflicts as a response to and a reflection of societal expectations, while Franzen expertly explores the fissions of domestic life, mining the rich mineral beneath the sediments of familial discord. In this first volume of a promised trilogy, Franzen is in rarified peak form." -Booklist (starred review)

"His best novel yet. . . . [Franzen] goes back to family-anatomising basics and the result is possibly his richest and most satisfying novel so far. . . . Moving from one character to another with unhurried efficiency, Franzen inhabits all of them with total conviction and a Middlemarch-like ability to know more about them than they know themselves." -The Telegraph

"[Crossroads] leaves you wanting more. That it does so is also very good news: It's the first in what promises to be a sprawling trilogy. . . . Classic Franzen, who imbues his books with big ideas, in this case about responsibility to family, self, God, country, and one's fellow man, among other matters, all the while digging deep into his characters' emotions, experiences, desires, and doubts in a way that will please readers seeking to connect to books heart-first. . . . Franzen's intensely absorbing novel is amusing, excruciating, and at times unexpectedly uplifting-in a word, exquisite." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[Franzen] does not disappoint. . . . [He writes] with penetrating insight delivered through incisive sentences. By turns funny and terrifying. . . . I can't wait to read what happens next." -BookPage (starred review)

"Thrilling in its sheer fury. . . . Jonathan Franzen really is one of the great novelists of his generation. Crossroads stands ready and willing to prove it." -Vox

"A page-by-page pleasure, a riveting way for Franzen to explore universal themes, tackled with ferocious creative intelligence. . . . [Franzen] embeds us so deeply in his characters' minds that we go through every scene with them. . . . How thrilling to be reminded that the novel can absorb and reward us like no other narrative art form, and how moving to see a writer reach such staggering new heights." -iNews

"An excellent novel. . . . Franzen brings to this novel a refreshing simplicity. . . . What remains is family drama as high art . . . Franzen's gift for interiority, his uncanny ability to take us into minds as fraught and depraved as our own. . . . This is why Franzen is always worth reading. He articulates the terror of exposure. The fear that people will see you for what you actually are. The flimsiness of the facade, the trembling doubt in every heart." -AV Club
Biographical NoteJONATHAN FRANZEN is the author of six novels, including The Corrections, Freedom, and Purity, and five works of nonfiction, including Farther Away and The End of the End of the Earth. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.