By Seija Rankin
February 10, 2021 at 12:00 PM EST

Jonathan Franzen — he of the hefty tomes — is embarking on his loftiest literary project yet. The author has written five novels (in addition to five nonfiction works) but is best known for 2001's The Corrections (winner of the National Book Award) and 2010's Freedom. Both are multigenerational family sagas dealing with loss, marital strife, and what can be crudely boiled down to as midlife crises — and they weigh in at 576 and 608 pages, respectively. Now Franzen will be bringing his legions of fans a trilogy of much of the same.

A Key to All Mythologies will follow three generations — harking back to the early 20th century and running through to the present — and promises to "trace the inner life of our culture," according to publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The first volume, Crossroads, will publish Oct. 5, and EW has the very first look at the book's cover.

Credit: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The novel opens in December 1971 and will introduce readers to the Hildebrandt family of suburban Chicago: patriarch Russ, who serves as a pastor in a local church; his wife, Marion; eldest son Clem, who has been away at college; Becky, the middle sibling, who began as a homecoming-queen-type and is slowly veering into counterculture; and youngest son Perry, who is trying to break a drug habit.

Crossroads will employ Franzen's signature multiple-narrator style to crack open the hearts of the family at the center of the story — the same characters who will form the backdrop of the entire trilogy. Franzen has not yet announced details of the ensuing volumes of A Key to All Mythologies, but at 592 pages we think the first installment will keep readers busy for some time.

Preorder your copy of Crossroads here, and stay tuned to EW for more details about the highly anticipated novel.

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