Jonathan Franzen’s Purity: Book club and discussion.

Has Anyone Noticed That Jonathan Franzen’s New Book Is All About Incest?

Has Anyone Noticed That Jonathan Franzen’s New Book Is All About Incest?

Discussing new and classic works.
Jan. 14 2016 8:07 AM

The Audio Book Club Purifies

Slate critics debate Jonathan Franzen’s sprawling new novel.


To listen to the Audio Book Club discussion of Purity, click the arrow on the player below.


Trying to discuss a Jonathan Franzen novel without digressing into the Franzen publicity storm is somewhat like attempting to make the eggplant emoji mean “eggplant.” But this month, Slate critics Meghan O’Rourke, Parul Sehgal, and Katy Waldman do their best with Purity, a sweeping, Dickensian book about a young woman in search of her origins. The panelists ask: What do innocence and corruption mean in the Internet age? Is Franzen too dismissive of his female characters? And did anyone else notice the wacky Oedipalism running through the story?

Next month the Audio Book Club will dig into Lucia Berlin’s short-story collection A Manual for Cleaning Women. Read the book, and stay tuned for our discussion in February!

Visit our Audio Book Club archive page for a complete list of the more than 75 books we’ve discussed over the years. Or you can listen to any of our previous club meetings through our iTunes feed.


See all the pieces in this month’s Slate Book Review.

Podcast produced by Jayson De Leon and Andy Bowers.

Meghan O’Rourke is Slate’s culture critic and an advisory editor. She was previously an editor at the New Yorker. The Long Goodbye, a memoir about her mother’s death, is now out in paperback.

Parul Sehgal is an editor at the New York Times Book Review.

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer.