John Freeman (author)

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John Freeman
John freeman 3280332.jpg
Born1974 (age 44–45)
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Alma materSwarthmore 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, Kenzaburō Ōe, 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.

Freeman edits a series of anthologies of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry entitled Freeman's, published in partnership with Grove/Atlantic and The New School. The first anthology appeared in October 2015, with new anthologies published twice a year.[7] Explaining his vision for Freeman's, he says: "I want it to be a home for the long form... I hope it introduces new writers, and coaxes great ones to do something other than book-length writing."[8]

His most recent book of poetry, Maps[9], was published in 2017 by Copper Canyon Press.

Freeman is on the jury for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize.[10]

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/Penguin. 2014. ISBN 978-1939293633.
  • Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation. New York: OR Books/Penguin. 2017. ISBN 978-1682190814.
  • Maps. Port Townsend: Copper Canyon. 2017. ISBN 978-1556595233.
  • Dictionary of the Undoing. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2019. ISBN 978-0374538859.

Selected poems available online[edit]


  1. ^ Williams, Charlotte, "Freeman to leave Granta magazine", The Bookseller, April 25, 2013.
  2. ^ Ciabattari, Jane (April 15, 2013). "John Freeman on Juding Process for Granta's "Best Young British Novelists Under 40 List"". National Book Critics Circle.
  3. ^ Teicher, Craig Morgan (December 1, 2008). "John Freeman: Book review crusader". Publishers Weekly.
  4. ^ a b How to Read a Novelist page at Macmillan Publishers.
  5. ^ Lotman, Marti (November 19, 2013). "John Freeman on Literature: Writers Serve as Cultural Bridge". Newsmax.
  6. ^ Teicher, Craig Morgan, "Dramatic Changes In Newspaper Book Review Sections Prompt NBCC Campaign To Save Book Reviews", Publishers Weekly, April 23, 2007.
  7. ^ Swanson, Clare, "Four Questions for...John Freeman", Publishers Weekly, August 6, 2014.
  8. ^ Charles, Ron, "From Granta to ‘Freeman’s’", The Washington Post, July 1, 2014.
  9. ^{46481771-A3FD-4457-B49F-B3BC6E31C815}
  10. ^ The Scotiabank Giller Prize: Introducing the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize Jury


External links[edit]