David Mitchell

    I don’t like fantasy, horror or ghost stories. I’ve never read Harry Potter or Narnia. I’ve never seen a single “Star Wars” movies.


    I like my fiction real, my make-believe believable, if you know what I mean.


    And yet – you knew that was coming – I couldn’t put down David Mitchell’s new novel, Slade House. I downed in quick feral slurp, like one of his soul-sucking spooks.

    I can’t say why: The creepy English house, the weird twins, the first person tales of magic and doom are common elements in this gimme a break genre. All that talk of apertures, lacunae, orisons, suborisons and astral projection is, for me, the literary equivalent of bad breath on a first date. Next!

    Except that Mitchell has such a magic way with words that I’d probably be entranced by his version of the phone book.

    This is not a great book. Unlike his masterpiece, Cloud Atlas, it is not a profound meditation on history, literature and hope. It is a fun diversion that provides real spiky pleasure.

    David Mitchell’s Top Ten List

    1. The Duel by Anton Chekhov (1891) - a novella, I know, but I would save it from a burning house before everything else I've ever read.
    2. 1984 by George Orwell (1948).
    3. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899).
    4. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (1811).
    5. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1966).
    6. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930).
    7. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (1749).
    8. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (1964).
    9. W, or The Memory of Childhood by Georges Perec (1975).
    10. The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (1943–48).
    Wild Card: Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner (1926).


    New List

    Maxine Hong Kingston

    1. Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer (1968).
    2. Begin Again by Grace Paley (2000)
    3. Duty of Delight by Dorothy Day (2008)
    4. Every War Has Two Losers by William Stafford (2003)
    5. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War by Viet Nguyen (2016).
    6. Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh (1992)
    7. A Primer for Forgetting by Lewis Hyde (2019)
    8. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
    9. Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, edited by Maxine Hong Kingston
    10. War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges (2002)


    Classic List

    Top Ten African-American Works

    1. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952). 
    2. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987). 
    3. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977). 
    4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937). 
    5. Native Son by Richard Wright (1945). 
    6. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (1959). 
    7. Another Country by James Baldwin (1962). 
    8. Cane by Jean Toomer (1923). 
    9. Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid (1990). 
    10. Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown (1965). 


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