Freedom by Jonathan Franzen has been declared a 'masterpiece of American fiction' by the New York Times. ((Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Associated Press))

About 80,000 copies of American author Jonathan Franzen's acclaimed new novel Freedom have been recalled in the U.K. due to punctuation and spelling mistakes.

HarperCollins confirmed Friday that it was a "typesetter's error."

"The books have around 50 punctuation and spelling mistakes," said the publisher in a statement. "The typesetters sent off an earlier version than the final corrected proof, so it was the uncorrected proof that went out."

The company said about 8,000 books had already been sold and that purchasers could exchange them for new ones by calling a special hotline. A corrected version is expected to be out "early next week."

The 51-year-old writer contends the mistakes aren't as minor as the publisher has claimed. He told the Guardian newspaper that the incorrect copies contained a "couple of hundred differences at the level of word and sentence and fact," as well as "small but significant changes to the characterizations" of two characters in the book.

The mistake is expected to cost the publisher around $161,000.

Franzen, whose 2001 book The Corrections became a hit, spent nine years working on Freedom, which has been widely lauded, including a New York Times review declaring it "a masterpiece of American fiction."

Franzen struggled with his latest novel after the success of The Corrections — nominated for a Pulitzer while also garnering the U.S. National Book Award for fiction. 

He created an austere regime that including writing in a bare studio apartment in New York City, using earphones to keep out external noises and purposely neutering the internet function on his old laptop.

In between the two novels, he published a book of essays, How to be Alone (2002), and a memoir, The Discomfort Zone (2006).

Freedom tells the story of post-9/11, Bush-era America through the tribulations of a dysfunctional middle-class family in Minnesota.

It's become such a success that he became the first living author in more than a decade to appear on the front of Time magazine, with the headline "Great American Novelist."