|Jonathan Franzen grew up in a suburb of St. Louis as an awkward introspective child, the son of a stern unemotional father who would eventually die of Alzheimer's, and a fussy mother obsessed with 1950s American status-quo. After working in a Seismology Lab at Harvard, Franzen wrote two well-received but commercially minor novels, THE TWENTY-SEVENTH CITY and STRONG MOTION. In 1996 Franzen wrote an essay for Harper's magazine titled "Perchance to Dream: In the Age of Images, a Reason to Write Novels," that discussed the plight of the American novel in an age of television and film, and particularly mourned the lack of readership for serious "social novels" and novels of ideas such as the works of Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo. The essay ended on a hopeful note, with Franzen claiming that the "social novel" needed to combine the formula of the family drama with rigorous intellectual thought, a fusion of popular and highbrow literature. The literary world waited with a mixture of anticipation and doubt until five years later when Franzen's THE CORRECTIONS hit the stands. The book was an unqualified success, a vindication of Franzen's bold claims: it received glowing reviews, won the National Book Award, and became one of the bestselling books of the 21st century. Franzen and THE CORRECTIONS also caused a controversy when it was selected to Oprah's Book Club, but removed from the list after Franzen denounced the "schmaltzy" nature of previous Book Club selections. Since then, Franzen has written primarily nonfiction for The New Yorker and Harper's, often dealing with his relationship with his parents, and has released two collections of non-fiction essays. Franzen's writing is known for its dark, unforgiving take on family, society, and himself, and for his powerful blend of emotional insight and intellectual thought.