The Discomfort Zone

The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History is a 2006 memoir by Jonathan Franzen, who received the National Book Award for Fiction for his novel The Corrections in 2001.[1][2]

The Discomfort Zone
First edition cover
AuthorJonathan Franzen
Cover artistJacket design by Lynn Buckley
Jacket art: "Map of a Man's Heart", from McCall's Magazine, January 1960, pp. 32-33. Adapted from nineteenth-century originals by Jo (Lowrey) Leeds and the editors of McCall's.
CountryUnited States
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date
September 5, 2006 (2006-09-05)
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages195 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN0-374-29919-6 (first edition, hardback)
813/.54 B 22
LC ClassPS3556.R352 Z46 2006


According to L'espresso, The Discomfort Zone reflects the values and contradictions of the American midwest in the 1960s. Franzen holds up Charlie Brown from the Peanuts cartoons as an exemplary representation of life of the American middle class in the author's home town of Webster Groves, Missouri, and countless similar towns. Values such as the love of nature are described as being related to traditional Protestant values, and as waning because of the decline of traditional religious belief.[3]

Perhaps most importantly, Franzen explores the duality of solitude and interpersonal relationships. Primarily using his mother's death as a metaphor for all human relationships, Franzen concludes that relationships are essential to our existence although we often fail to recognize and appreciate their importance at the time.


  • "House for Sale" (the author's mother, the family house)
  • "Ponies"
  • "Then Joy Breaks Through" (Christian education)
  • "Centrally Located"
  • "The Foreign Language"
  • "My Bird Problem" (the author's marriage, his birding hobby)


External linksEdit