[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.




Toni Morrison




Don DeLillo


Blood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy


Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels

John Updike






American Pastoral

Philip Roth



A Confederacy of Dunces

John Kennedy Toole



Marilynne Robinson


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

Mark Helprin


White Noise

Don DeLillo


The Counterlife

Philip Roth



Don DeLillo


Where I’m Calling From

Raymond Carver


The Things They Carried

Tim O’Brien



Norman Rush


Jesus’ Son

Denis Johnson


Operation Shylock

Philip Roth


Independence Day

Richard Ford


Sabbath’s Theater

Philip Roth


Border Trilogy

Cormac McCarthy





The Human Stain

Philip Roth


The Known World

Edward P. Jones


The Plot Against America

Philip Roth



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