Terry Gross: There’s an author photo in the back of your new book, Purity, and in it you’re on the beach…I assume it’s the on the beach in Santa Cruz because that’s where you live…
Jonathan Franzen: No, actually it’s the beach in Egypt.
Gross: Oh, really?
Franzen: Yes, it was after I was in Egypt for three weeks reporting on the killing of migratory birds there and we’d been in the Sahara and we’re very dusty and very parched and hot. And we finally made it back to the Mediterranean and my thought was take off your boots and get in the water. So that’s where that picture’s from
Gross: Why did you choose that for your author photo?
Franzen: Because I’m just absolutely happy looking.
Gross: I thought you were too.
Franzen: Happy as only somebody who has been in the Sahara for four days and suddenly has cool Mediterranean water around their feet can be happy!