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The Twenty-Seventh City (Bestselling Backlist) Paperback – 8 Sep 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Picador USA (8 Sept. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312420145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312420147
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2.4 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,984,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Franzen was born in 1959 and graduated from Swarthmore College. He has lived in Boston, Spain, New York, Colorado Springs and Philadelphia. His other novels are 'The Twenty-Seventh City', 'Strong Motion', and 'The Corrections'. He is also the author of 'How To Be Alone', a collection of non-fiction, and 'The Discomfort Zone', a memoir. His fiction and non-fiction appear frequently in the 'New Yorker' and 'Harper's', and he was named one of the best American novelists under forty by 'Granta' and the 'New Yorker'. He lives in New York City.

Product Description


• 'A huge and masterly drama…gripping and surreal and overwhelmingly convincing.' Laura Shapiro, Newsweek

• 'A novel so imaginatively and expansively of our times that is seems ahead of them.' Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

• 'Franzen has managed to put together a suspense story with the elements of a complex, multi-layered psychological novel…A riveting piece of fiction that lingers in the mind long after more conventional pot-boilers have bubbled away.' Peter Andrews, The New York Times Book Review

• ‘Unsettling and visionary…“The Twenty-Seventh City” is not a novel that can be quickly dismissed or easily forgotten: it has elements of both “Great” and “American”…A book of memorable characters, surprising situations, and provocative ideas.’ Washington Post

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jonathan Franzen is the author of ‘Strong Motion’, ‘The Corrections’ and ‘How to be Alone’. His fiction and nonfiction appear frequently in the New Yorker and Harper's, and he was named one of the best American novelists under forty by Granta and the New Yorker. He lives in New York City.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Scritore on 10 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
Having enjoyed The Corrections very much I looked forward to Franzen's first novel, The 27th City. Somewhat to my surprise, though first novels often are untypical of a writer's entire output,I heartily disliked it; couldn't wait for it to end in fact. I find the premise unpersuasive(female Indian former police chief of Bombay gets the same job in St Louis, Missouri, the 27th city of the title, and effectively seizes political power via corruption, murder and cruel sexual manipulation, all in a period of six months.)If,as is claimed, it's supposed to be a telling study of the collapse of the American Dream,for me it fails. It's impossible to engage with any of the principals. The endless passages of regional politicking and the confusingly large cast of peripheral characters exhausted my patience. It's painfully overwritten. An able editor would have suggested it be cut by a third. In sum, I found the tone so unpleasant that it's one of only two novels (the other being V.S.Naipaul's loathsome Guerillas)I don't want about the house.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By ghandibob VINE VOICE on 4 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections caused a pretty big stir in the US about eighteen months ago; so big that ripples made it across the Atlantic well before the book was published in the UK. Whatever your view of the hype, the book was better than it led you to believe. It read like a masterpiece. Preternaturally composed and insightful. So real that is scared you just describing the inside of a house. But, with that bravura performance yet to come, what of Franzen's earlier fiction?
The Twenty-seventh City, first published in 1988 and set four years earlier, has recently been re-released, riding the wave of literary commotion caused by his bestseller. It is a long debut novel about the city of St Louis, once a top-five centre of economic and cultural importance, listed right up there with New York and Boston, but now, in the mid-eighties, falling rapidly down the list of grand American cities. The St Louis arch is, in this book, the only thing that stands out about the city, and even that seems merely to awe residents, whilst those from out of state only turn their attention when the Cardinals make the play-offs in baseball's Major League.
Faded glories are apt to be burnished, though, and St Louis is about to undergo a transformation. The arrival of S. Jammu, an American-born Bombay police chief (distantly related to Indira Ghandi) who is installed as the new local head of police, heralds a timely change in fortunes. She has her eye on much more than just crime, however, and under cover of her charm and her outstanding political abilities a wide-ranging conspiracy touches all levels of city society, polishing everything up as it goes.
Franzen draws a wonderfully entertaining, vibrant picture of a local business community unable to shift itself out of a slump.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Philip Mayo VINE VOICE on 16 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback
I think that Jonathan Franzen is an excellent writer and I very much enjoyed his "The Corrections" and "Freedom". Both books gave us beautiful, highly readable prose and were thoughtful in the way they dealt with serious issues that have relevance to us all.

And then I came to "The Twenty-Seventh City".

This is a suspense/thriller with a pretty outlandish plot which tells of a conspiracy orchestrated by the new Police Chief in St. Louis, Missouri, who is an Indian (not an American Indian...Indian as in Bombay) woman of American birth but of Indian upbringing and who is, at the age of 35, renowned for her success in running the police department in Bombay. So, when the vacancy arises she gets the job of Police Chief in St. Louis. Hmmm. A 35 year old Indian woman, with no experience whatsoever of policing in America, or indeed of anything in America, gets this highly politicized appointment in a major US city? It is suggested later in the book that influence may have been used to secure the job for her by a St. Louis industrialist who had, a short time before the appointment, married a fabulously wealthy Indian princess. Yep..a princess. Once installed the new Police Chief, S. Jammu, stealthily launches her real agenda which is to manipulate property prices by means of extensive police operations to clean up specific areas of the city in which the company owned by the husband of the princess has previously bought huge numbers of properties at rock bottom prices, using money supplied by the new Police Chief's mother (yes..mother) who is a major operator back in India, in order to make massive profits when her daughter's machinations have borne fruit on the ground in St. Louis.
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I turned to this first novel of Jonathan Franzen after reading The Corrections (which I liked), Freedom (which I thought most mostly great) and The Discomfort Zone (highly enjoyable autobiography). It was a real disappointment.

An Indian woman with links to Indira Gandhi and lots of money becomes chief of policy in St Louis. She becomes engaged in politics in the US's 27th city through a mix of underhand means (not clearly why - not clear why with access to terror, funds and a large support team, she doesn't simply wipe opponents off the face of the earth). Against her is pitted Martin Probst a decent man. It's not terribly clear why Martin is a decent man - and the only one around really; nor why for example refusing to engage trade unionists on the books of his construction company makes him admirable. But anyway, the plot goes on...

It's hard to sympathise with anyone in this plot; hard to really engage with the plot; and though there may be signs of greatness to come hidden here, they are pretty well hidden.
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