May 11, 2006

What Is the Best Work of American Fiction of the Last 25 Years?

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From the New York Times:

Early this year, the Book Review's editor, Sam Tanenhaus, sent out a short letter to a couple of hundred prominent writers, critics, editors and other literary sages, asking them to please identify "the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years".

And the results are staggeringly close to where my votes would have gone. The winner was Toni Morrison's Beloved which I have read and re-read and taught to many groups of students and which is spectacular and strange and beautiful. The runner-up is Don DeLillo's enormous overview of post-war America Underworld – an astounding novel, even if you only read its opening scene set during a legendary baseball game in New York in 1951.

I'd have Beloved and Underworld as my 1 and 2. Well whadya know? Yesterday I'm a metrosexual and disturbing social figure. Today I'm in full agreement with "a couple of hundred prominent writers, critics, editors and other literary sages" in the US.

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