US novelist Franzen hit by UK recall

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Tens of thousands of copies of the new novel by bestselling US author Jonathan Franzen, "Freedom," have been recalled after an early draft of the book was printed by mistake, his publisher said Saturday.

Best known for his best-selling 2001 novel "The Corrections", Franzen has received a tidal wave of hype in Britain and the United States for his latest work, with one reviewer calling it the "novel of the century."

But publishers HarperCollins said the version of "Freedom" released in Britain earlier this week contained dozens of mistakes, with about 8,000 copies being sold from the initial print run of 80,000 now in shops.

"It was a typesetter’s error. The books have around 50 punctuation and spelling mistakes. The typesetter sent the last-but-one version," said a HarperCollins spokesman.

The publisher said readers with the botched copy of the book could exchange them for new ones by calling a special hotline "and we expect the new edition, including the final corrections, to be available early next week."

"Jonathan has been working on this novel for 10 years. We want readers to see the finished version that left his computer," the spokesman said, adding that Franzen had "accepted that these things happen."

Franzen, 51, was quoted by The Guardian newspaper as saying that the faulty edition contained "a couple of hundred differences at the level of word and sentence and fact" and "small but significant" changes to key characters.

"Freedom", the story of a dysfunctional American family, was a labor of love for the author, who at times wrote blindfolded and with earplugs to overcome crippling writer’s block.

He recently became the first living author in more than a decade to appear on the front of Time magazine, with the headline "Great American Novelist" over a moody portrait.

"The Corrections" sold nearly three million copies but Franzen caused a furor in 2001 when he refused to allow it to be promoted as part of megastar US talk show host Oprah Winfrey’s book club.

Franzen patched up his row with Winfrey last month and she made "Freedom" her newest Book Club choice.

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