It was during a recording for BBC2’s Friday night Review Show that Franzen became aware that his book, Freedom, was full of spelling and grammatical mistakes and missing alterations he had made to the final draft.
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Breaking off midway through reading a paragraph for the show he said: “I’m realising to my horror that there is a mistake here that was corrected early in the galleys and is still in the f**king hardcover of the book.”
In the end hundreds of mistakes were discovered. Publisher HarperCollins has been forced to recall and pulp the first print run. Already 8,000 copies have been sold of the 80,000 already sent to the shops.
The crucial mistake was made when the typesetter, Falkirk-based Palimpsest, sent an earlier, uncorrected version of the book to the printers.
Freedom is Franzen’s first novel in nine years. His last was the Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Corrections. Freedom, a tale of a dysfunctional Midwestern family, is already being hailed as a modern classic.