Talk of the Bay from KSQD
Talk of the Bay from KSQD
Exclusive: Author Jonathan Franzen takes on the community of feral cat lovers

“In municipalities throughout the United States, a policy of trap-neuter-return (T.N.R.) has become the preferred approach to the problem of unowned cats,” writes author Jonathan Franzen in his recent New Yorker exposé on feral cats and the decimation of wild bird populations. “Our sympathy for animals has created a situation that’s terrible for animals.”

Causing a stir in the world of animal lovers, Franzen calls TNR “a strategy with no firm basis in science”—and recently he came on KSQD, his home radio station, to speak about his research. Franzen’s conversation with Talk of the Bay host Rachel Anne Goodman covers his process of researching and fact-checking the article. He’s a bird-lover fearful of forthcoming mass extinction events, an animal-lover advocating for the killing of countless furry friends, a writer who focuses on fiction but found real life calling loudly for his attention.

“I married into an animal loving family and a birdwatching family, and quickly became a serious birdwatcher,” Franzen explains about his move to Santa Cruz County 25 years ago. I became pretty extreme about it, and with that came a sense of fear about what is happening to the wild birds of the world.”

In the second half of the program, Franzen goes back to his comfort zone and talks about the joy of retreating to the 1970s of his teen years to write his more recent novel, Crossroads.

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About Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen is a novelist and essayist whose sprawling multilayered novels about contemporary America have elicited critical acclaim. His novels combine brilliant storytelling while exploring the intimate connections of family relations. Franzen’s 2001 novel, “The Corrections,” won the National Book Award and the James Trait Black Memorial Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Since then, he has written four more novels, including “Crossroads,” a national bestseller named one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2021. It was also cited by Barack Obama, Financial Times, Good Housekeeping, Oprah Daily, Newsweek, NPR, Publishers Weekly, TIME, USA Today, Vogue, The Washington Post and many more.

His recent essay in the New Yorker magazine Cats of L.A. takes on the issue of feral cats and the efforts of communities to try to reduce their numbers in humane ways.