Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Twenty-Seventh City” as Want to Read:
The Twenty-Seventh City
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Twenty-Seventh City

3.12  ·  Rating details ·  3,623 Ratings  ·  359 Reviews
A riveting work of suspense, an eerie fable of political life, a love story - this first novel by Jonathan Franzen, published to wide acclaim in 1988, is a sweeping and imaginative look at America in the twentieth century.
Paperback, 528 pages
Published May 15th 1997 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1988)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Twenty-Seventh City, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Twenty-Seventh City

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Darwin8u
Aug 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
“The guiding principle of Martin’s personality, the sum of his interior existence, was the desire to be left alone.

Franzen

If all those years he’d sought attention, even novelty, and if he still relished them, then that was because attention proved him different and solitude begins in difference.”
― Jonathan Franzen, The Twenty-Seventh City

Franzen's freshman effort is striking. First, just one long gaze at the picture of Franzen on the back and it makes me think this kid must have been gnawing on ideas
...more
Jessica
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a big weird book, and the first novel I've been able to get into after a depressing reading rut. For some reason every reviewer on here seems to have hated or at least been disappointed by this book, but I thought it was a fun and unexpectedly bizarre read. Sure, it sagged a bit in the middle, but what 500 page book doesn't? I really haven't been able to get into any fiction in ages, and I wolfed this thing down in three days, looked forward to picking it up when I had to put it down and ...more
Billy
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jonathan Franzen
Hmm. It's hard to say this, since Jonathan Franzen has more talent in writing than I will ever have even tying my shoes. But compared to "Strong Motion" and "The Corrections", this book is tiresome, and falls unmistakably short of its ambitions. There are some hints of his gift (on more consistent display in later works) for hyper-perceptive and realistic accounts of the moment-by-moment consciousness of his characters; if only his regard for his characters in this one were more evenly distribut ...more
Chris
Aug 05, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book held a very intersting ballance between being a page-turning thriller and a slow-paced, almost boring novel of mid-city civics. Franzen's first novel, it should have replaced the map of St. Louis with a chart of characters, a la most Tolstoy translations; the geography never was quite as confusing as the fifty+ main characters, their relationships, and which corperations or city office they controlled.

The plot is oddly conservative, centering around a plot by foreign (Indian) investors
...more
Andrew
Let's talk about the comparisons between two of my favorite writers of the present era, Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace. Both write great, sprawling novels that, while epically long, aren't very difficult. Both express the unique anxieties and lonelinesses of our present era, and will both probably be remembered by future scholars as representative writers of our times. But in both cases, their first novels were really pretty weak. The Broom of the System feels like a young writer's ra ...more
Mattia Ravasi
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Featured in my Top 5 Jonathan Franzen Books: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKJrZ...
Video-review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68qnEs...

An incredible debut novel, a wonderfully Pynchonian work, and proof that Franzen can be awesome even with something different from the Midwestern Family Saga.
Holly
Jul 28, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, hated-it
There should be a symbol for 'hated it.' One of the worst books I have ever read. Pretentious, agonizing, worthless, populated with extremely boring characters (in my opinion). What is it about? Some uninteresting combination of St Louis, Indian nationals, immigration and terrorism, a metaphorical story about metaphors, and Jonathan Franzen's love for his own vocabulary (or his thesaurus). I was actually angry at myself for finishing it, the Bataan Death March of books. If I ever read another Jo ...more
Kiof
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fake review: How can someone so obviously intelligent be a mere transcriber of platitudes? (quote from the book, btw). Real review: One of the trademarks of Franzens writing is the aftertaste of cynicism readily apparent in every one of his rather brilliant psychological insights. So it is hard for the reader not to treat his work with a similair level of hypercriticism.
Like how the friend who makes you laugh the most isnt neccesarily going to be a great stand up comedian, so every man or woman
...more
Lori
Dec 08, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hey, uh, Jonathan, I'd like my week back. That week I spent reading this piece of you-know-what? I know, I know, I read you backwards. Totally my mistake. I started with The Corrections several years ago, which I dearly loved. Then I read Strong Motion, which wasn't nearly as satisfying, but was still a worthwhile read. And now this. I stuck with this one to the very end because Strong Motion redeemed itself only in its latter pages. I kept thinking, okay, Jonathan, tie up a few of those loose e ...more
Nicole
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ownbooks2017
This was a huge mess, albeit a promising and fairly enjoyable one.
Franzen had been reading Pynchon, clearly, and he was ambitious in the best possible way. For a first novel, it's pretty decent.

It's interesting to see him write in this mode, also, having read later efforts that have taken him far away into nuanced characters, family dynamics, and larger and easier to follow narrative chunks. Part of me is a little sad, actually, that he abandoned this mode for that other one, though I certainl
...more
Houdini
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Έκανα μια έρευνα στο διαδίκτυο σχετικά με το βιβλίο,διάβασα τα επαινετικά σχόλια και τους εγκωμιαστικούς χαρακτηρισμούς (π.χ ''κλασσικό'') μα δεν μπορώ να πω πως ενθουσιάστηκα από το ''τρομερό παιδί'' της σύγχρονης αμερικανικής λογοτεχνίας.Προσπάθησα,δεν μπορώ να πω πως δεν προσπάθησα.Επί έξι ημέρες το έκανα βόλτες από καναπέ σε καναπέ,ώσπου εγκατέλειψα την προσπάθεια να τελειώσω αυτό το ογκώδες βιβλίο (στην σελίδα 342).

Το Σεντ Λούις βρίσκεται σε παρακμή.Από την τέταρτη θέση που βρισκόταν στην λ
...more
Anna
Mar 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book will give you a tight butt and killer abs. Franzen's first novel makes you work incredibly hard in order to keep up with the breathtaking variety of writing experiments he undertakes, such as (1) switching back and forth between time frames with no visible cues (e.g., line breaks); (2) writing whole page (or multiple page) sections without referring to character names; and (3) "skipping" entire events, requiring the reader to infer what happened between chapters (or parts of a ...more
Carriefeibel
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those confused about the tone of this book, keep in mind it's a farce. Yes, you can see Franzen beginning to develop his trademark of creating deep characters with mixed intentions and loveable weaknesses. But some characters never gel and some get dropped (Duane never gets unmasked?). Who cares? The fun of the book is in the teetering-on-the-edge-of-plausibility plot. Franzen tries to imagine how St. Louisans, his staid, conflicted but conventional St. Louisans would react to terror, fires, ...more
Caroline
Jan 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
OK, if this book didn't contain so many references to Webster Groves I wouldn't have found it that great. "The Twenty-Seventh" city is a reference to St Louis and the plot is a bizarre takeover plot by Indian nationals. The identities of area notables and bigwigs are, by intent, not so carefully disguised and playing the game of "who's who" is fun. Find the place where Franzen goofs and calls Civic Progress by its real name, rather than the euphemistic title he gives it in the book (which has si ...more
Angela
May 10, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I wonder if authors ever look back at their first book(s) and think, "wow, I can do so much better than that now." Think they ever regret publishing the early stuff?

I can't even tell you what happened here. It was so chocked full of politics (which I don't understand to begin with) and conspiracy (that I couldn't figure out the purpose for) that following anything was impossible.

A lot of my issues were character-related. There were just so many of them, with so few being memorable, tha
...more
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
So I read somewhere than the initial manuscript was 1300 pages. OH MY GOD. This is a 515 page book that could have easily been 250 pages. Get rid of half the characters and the plot points that went nowhere. Make it about Jammu and Probst and forget everyone else. Seriously!!! There were some good parts, some good sentences, and somehow I *was* interested in how it would end, but... damn. I mean good on you Franzen for not writing a coming of age story about a misunderstood young man growing up ...more
Kathy
Jul 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It was Jonathan Franzen's debut novel and he wrote it about his hometown, St. Louis. The St. Louis connection was fun. It took me awhile to get into the book and figure out what was going on. I think that part of this might have been that the novel when originally submitted was over a thousand pages and Mr. Franzen was immediately told that it had to be severely edited before it was publishable. I am not sure if the author or an editor did the majority of the editing, but it m ...more
Krysten
I quit after... not very many pages.

Bleaaaah fuck this book.
Matt
Sep 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Jonathan Franzen, where to begin? Let me preface this by saying that I chose to read this book at random. I had just finished reading the latest lengthy installment of Robert Caro's masterful LBJ biography and I needed a fiction selection. I looked at my Amazon wish list of books to read, did a random number generator, and this book was at the top.

One more preface: just two days ago, after reading this book but before writing this review, I saw an excerpt of David Foster Wallace's biography
...more
Ryan
Apr 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a definite Franzen fan, I loved Freedom and thought the Corrections was a fascinating character study kind of book even if I thought Freedom did laps around it. But this is not in the same class as those two. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but at times it felt like a bit of a labor, and if it weren't for the trust Franzen has already built up with me from his past works, I'm not certain I would have seen it through to the end.

The plot is a sprawling conspiracy tale set in St. Louis
...more
Mike Keirsbilck
Being a big fan of both the Corrections and Freedom, I decided to explore Franzen's earlier work. I started off with The Twenty-Seventh city, and was a bit surprised by how much this one differs from his later work. Instead of a satyrical tranche-de-vie of American (family) life, this one is a political thriller of sorts.

The story takes off when S. Jammu, an indian police officer with a double nationality, starts as the head of the St. Louis police department. She plots a conspiracy in order to
...more
Corey
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I am a Franzen fan. After reading and thoroughly enjoying- The Corrections, Freedom, and even The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History- I (somewhat) incorrectly assumed an immediate connection to The Twenty-Seventh City. The novel’s premise screams intrigue: urban restructuring, political corruption, suburban discontent (in true J-Franz style), and adultery. However, the result was none other than an over-ambitions, convoluted plot and an ending filled with unnecessary murder. On a se ...more
Gordon
Sep 12, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever read an incredibly bleak and depressing book that was written so beautifully that you couldn't stop? Given all the buzz about Franzen's Freedom, I decided to see what his style was like in one of his previous works. He's a great writer, there's really no question about that, but the profoundness and specificity of the novel's examples make for a direct and devastating attack on any romanticized conceptions of America. If you want to know what's sick and twisted about any of the rel ...more
Jess
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I rescued this book from the trashpile when my company moved and threw out an entire bookshelf worth of stuff. I'd never read any Franzen and thought this would be a free opportunity to do so.

There were times when I would begin to get pulled into the story, but the disorganization of the storytelling and the inconsistency of the writing style always left me confused and a bit alienated. Towards the end it picked up as the threads were coming together, but I didn't really like how it all turned o
...more
Anne
Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure that I ever really got this book to be honest, but I enjoyed comparing it to the same author's The Corrections, one of my very favorite novels. In my opinion, this book falls into the Abuse of the Novel Form category (previously inhabited only by John Irving), trying to expand its universe too far and cram in to much detail and description. The Twenty-seventh City never really fills the space Franzen creates for it, and thus it is hard to care about what happens to St Louis or its i ...more
Jeremy
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
This seems like the book which is most indicative of the 'maximalist' style which Franzen gets labelled as practicing. He throws just about everything he can at you, interior monologue, fake letters and news reports. It has a sort of perfunctory, journalistic feel throughout, in spite of the numerous stylistic tropes he messes around with. It takes a while to get off of the ground, and he leaves these big nebulous, loops of action which you sort of have to fill in with your own conjectures (is t ...more
Juris
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before reading this novel I was one of the people who considered Franzen over-rated. I have read THE CORRECTIONS, FREEDOM, and PURITY; which were all too similar I was ready to give up on Franzen all together. But after I was giving this novel I gave it a chance, and to my surprise, I was shown a whole different Jonathan Franzen. This book makes me understand, but I still do not agree, why his name was always mixed in with the likes of Pynchon, Delillo, and DFW.
Maybe the fame of THE CORRECTIONS
...more
Kim
Sep 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was gearing up to start Freedom, but I picked this up for 50cents at the library book sale and started reading. There is a plot line re. a mass-scale terrorism attack (on Busch Stadium) that is especially interesting in light of the fact that it was written 13 year before 9/11, but mostly I am enjoying all of the references to familiar St. Louis spots (the story is set here and I believe Franzen is a native.) Not enough UCity yet, but of course in the late 80s UCity was still on the decline an ...more
David Ramirer
Jul 16, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: early-readings
ein teilweise unterhaltsames buch, in summe aber kaum überzeugendes konstrukt ohne bodenhaftung. manche ereignisse sind kaum glaubwürdig, einige figuren nur lächerlich. franzen gelingt es nicht, die geschichte "zusammenzuhalten", daher zerfällt das ganze buch in unmotivierte einzelteile.
werde es sicher nicht noch einmal lesen.
C. Adam Volle
Reading Franzen (pbuh) at the age of twenty-five is like watching a physics student fail to make his hovercraft prototype work: clearly the kid's a genius with a future, the product just isn't at the enjoyable phase yet.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Kill Your Idols: A New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics
  • Soul of a Whore and Purvis: Two Plays in Verse
  • Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated
  • Women With Men
  • Bits of Paradise
  • Navigator
  • Filthy Lucre: Economics for People Who Hate Capitalism
  • Verso Occidente l'Impero dirige il suo corso
  • The Wapshot Scandal
  • Bigfoot Dreams
  • Das entschwundene Land
  • The Chess Garden
  • Disaster Area
  • Wormholes: Essays and Occasional Writings
  • Voices From The Moon
  • A Hall of Mirrors
  • End Zone
  • Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer's Life
2578
Jonathan Franzen is the author of The Corrections, winner of the 2001 National Book Award for fiction; the novels The Twenty-Seventh City and Strong Motion; and two works of nonfiction, How to Be Alone and The Discomfort Zone, all published by FSG. His fourth novel, Freedom, was published in the fall of 2010.

Franzen's other honors include a 1988 Whiting Writers' Award, Granta's Best Of Young Ameri
...more
More about Jonathan Franzen...
“The guiding principle of Martin’s personality, the sum of his interior existence, was the desire to be left alone. If all those years he’d sought attention, even novelty, and if he still relished them, then that was because attention proved him different and solitude begins in difference.” 5 likes
More quotes…