Two weeks ago, best-selling author Jodi Picoult sent a Tweet in a fit of pique. Upon reading Michiko Kakutani’s glowing review of Jonathan Franzen’s new novel Freedom in the New York Times, the lady novelist took to her keyboard and typed out the following:NYT raved about Franzen’s new book. Is anyone shocked? Would love to see the NYT rave about authors who aren’t white male literary darlings.Then fellow best-seller Jennifer Weiner revved up her Twitter account, too, and posted about the breathless critical love of Franzen, whose book was still not out yet. She invented the Twitter hashtag #franzenfreude, which she describes thusly: “Schadenfreude is taking pleasure in the pain in others. Franzenfreude is taking pain in the multiple and copious reviews being showered on Jonathan Franzen.”Weiner tweeted prolifically after starting the franzenfreude meme. “In summation: NYT sexist, unfair, loves Gary Shteyngart, hates chick lit, ignores romance. And now, to go weep into my royalty statement,” she wrote on Aug. 19.
Weiner probably does have a rough life, what with her bestsellers and the popular film adaptation of one of her novels a few years back. And I’m sure she’s talented, but for fuck’s sake, if you’re trying to convince people to read your books, maybe coming up with the word “Franzenfreude” (which is literally “Franzen joy,” and thus the fucking opposite of what she’s trying to say) isn’t your best sales pitch.