Believe the hype: Jonathan Franzen's latest novel Freedom is the literary real deal. Featured in this list are other literary novels with themes similar to those found in Freedom.
The wealthier and more socially connected Adam and Cynthia Morey become, the more they (and their children) succumb to excess and risky behavior.
The World According to Garp
For a side of lunacy with your basic family drama and emotional baggage, look no further. These characters are quirky but you can relate to them. The over-riding themes of sexuality and gender roles play a large part in this best-selling novel.
The many storyline and character parallels between Freedom and The Falls sweetened by Oates's genius for misery make this a natural choice for Franzen fans.
Honeymooners: A Cautionary Tale
The not-so-thinly-veiled autobiographical fiction of the relationships between Kinder and his wife and Raymond Carver and his wife. Drugs and alcohol and sex prevail, as well as enduring friendships and heartbreak.
While Franzen specializes in analyzing the state of middle class America, Richard Russo turns his attention to the working class. He does it best in his Pulitzer Prize winning classic, Empire Falls.
The House of Mirth
In Jonathan Lethem's own words, "the heroine of House of Mirth, Lily Bart, is one of the great characters in American literature . . . Wharton's love for Lily is equal to the cruelty that Wharton's story relentlessly inflicts on her; and so we recognize our entire selves in her." That's an apt description of the female lead in Freedom, which I loved reading as much as House of Mirth.