John Freeman (author)

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John Freeman
JohnFreeman02(86th&Lexington10 7 13).JPG
Freeman at New York book signing, 2013
Born Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Alma mater Swarthmore College

John Freeman (born 1974) is an American writer and a literary critic. He was the editor of the literary magazine Granta until 2013,[1] the former president of the National Book Critics Circle, and his writing has appeared in almost 200 English-language publications around the world, including the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and The Wall Street Journal.

Early life[edit]

John Freeman was born in Cleveland, Ohio,[2] grew up in New York, Pennsylvania and California, and graduated from Swarthmore College in 1996.[3]


Freeman's first book, The Tyranny of E-mail: The Four-Thousand Year Journey to Your Inbox, was published in 2009. (It was published in Australia under the title Shrinking the World: The 4,000-year story of how email came to rule our lives.) Freeman's second book, a collection of his interviews with major contemporary writers titled How to Read a Novelist, was published in the US in 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.[4] (It was originally published in Australia in 2012.) The book features profiles of Margaret Atwood, John Updike, Geoff Dyer, Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami, and others. According to a 2013 interview with Newsmax, Freeman profiled a number of female authors (16 total) in How to Read a Novelist and specifically began the book with Toni Morrison because he thinks “the literary culture is often masculinized. But many of our teachers are women. Often times, if you’re a reader it’s because your mother is a reader—as mine certainly was.”[5]

During his six years on the board of the National Book Critics Circle, Freeman launched a campaign to raise awareness of the cutbacks in book coverage in national print media and to save book review sections.[6]

Freeman joined the UK-based Granta in December 2008, became acting editor in May 2009, and was named editor in October 2009. While at the magazine, he edited Mary Gaitskill, Kenzaburo Oe, Rana Dasgupta, Dinaw Mengestu, Peter Carey, Jeanette Winterson, Natsuo Kirino, Victor LaValle, Herta Muller, Daniel Alarcon, Wole Soyinka, Aleksandar Hemon, Salman Rushdie, Yiyun Li, Tony D'Souza, Colum McCann, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, George Saunders, Marie Darrieussecq, Joshua Ferris, Aminatta Forna, Jim Crace, Richard Russo, Kamila Shamsie, Mo Yan, A. L. Kennedy, Mohsin Hamid, and Chimamanda Adichie. Writers who debuted in Granta during his tenure included Chinelo Okparanta, Phil Klay, Claire Vaye Watkins and Maria Venegas.

Personal life[edit]

Freeman lives in New York City.[4]



  • The Tyranny of E-mail: The Four-Thousand Year Journey to Your Inbox. New York: Scribner. 2009. ISBN 978-1416576730. 
  • How to Read a Novelist. Melbourne: Text Publishing. 2012. ISBN 978-1921922688. 
  • Tales of Two Cities: The Best and Worst of Times in Today's New York. New York: OR Books. 2014. ISBN 978-1939293633. 

Selected poems available online[edit]



External links[edit]