[NYT] New York Times “What is the Best Work of American Fiction of the Last 25 Years?”

New York Times “What is the Best Work of American Fiction of the Last 25 Years?” [NYT]

Published in 2006

The newspaper of the establishment selects the best writing by the establishment. It’s hard to argue with any of the books, and since I love the Rabbit Angstrom quartet I won’t hiss about half of it being written over the span of 40 years, not 25. Each novel here is beautifully written by the best writers I’ve ever read. Believe me, I don’t like being told what’s good and what’s bad. I want to hate Philip Roth because everybody else loves him. This list names a total of 22 books. Six are by Philip Roth. Incredible. And though I do get sick of the Jersey Jew protagonists who seem to only change their names, skin tones, and bodily ailments, I have to hand it to the guy. He expresses human emotion more succinctly and honestly than anyone else I’ve read except maybe some of the other authors mentioned in this list. Yes, this is a good list. It’s good to see Beloved get its due after a snub by the Modern Library Board’s list [MLB] and I take pleasure in seeing three of my favorite books included here (American Pastoral, Rabbit Angstrom, and Blood Meridian). To editorialize a bit, though, I don’t get the whole DeLillo thing. I found Underworld to be preachy, artificial, clunky, and dry. Like if Richard Ford tried his hand at postmodernism. I can never get past characters who speak like they are characters in a novel.

Here’s the full NYT list. Entries below listed in RED appear on the Master List.

 

THE WINNER:

Beloved

Toni Morrison
(1987)

 

THE RUNNERS-UP:

Underworld

Don DeLillo

(1997)

Blood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy

(1985)

Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels

John Updike

(1995)

(1990) 

(1981) 

(1971) 

(1960) 

American Pastoral

Philip Roth

(1997)

THE FOLLOWING BOOKS ALSO RECEIVED MULTIPLE VOTES:

A Confederacy of Dunces

John Kennedy Toole

(1980)

Housekeeping

Marilynne Robinson

(1980)

    (This book was not reviewed by The Times.)
Winter’s Tale

Mark Helprin

(1983)

White Noise

Don DeLillo

(1985)

The Counterlife

Philip Roth

(1986)

Libra

Don DeLillo

(1988)

Where I’m Calling From

Raymond Carver

(1988)

The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien

(1990)

Mating

Norman Rush

(1991)

Jesus’ Son

Denis Johnson

(1992)

Operation Shylock

Philip Roth

(1993)

Independence Day

Richard Ford

(1995)

Sabbath’s Theater

Philip Roth

(1995)

Border Trilogy

Cormac McCarthy

(1999)

(1998) 

(1994) 

(1992) 

The Human Stain

Philip Roth

(2000)

The Known World

Edward P. Jones

(2003)

The Plot Against America

Philip Roth

(2004)

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