Featured List

Maxine Hong Kingston

Our newest Top Ten list comes from one of America’s most celebrated writers, Maxine Hong Kingston, who has used Chinese-American experiences to depict the human condition through several works of nonfiction and one novel.

The daughter of Chinese immigrants who operated a California gambling house in the 1940s and later a laundry, Kingston often blends autobiography and mythology in her work. Her first book – “The Woman Warrior” (1976) which won the National Book ... read more ...

The Book: The Top Ten

    Rick Moody

    Rick Moody is earning reviews so warm they’re glowing for his sixth novel, Hotels of North America - a darkly comic portrait of a man whose life - including his motivational speaking career, the dissolution of his marriage, the separation from his beloved daughter, and his devotion to an amour known only as "K." – is revealed through his online reviews.

     

    Here are three:

     

    Michael Cunningham

    Fairy tale writers are the worst closers in the biz. Oh sure, they can spin a good yarn, full of magic, romance and now I can’t sleep at night terror. But when the time comes to wrap it all up, the best most can come up with is “and they lived happily ever after.”

     

    Really?

     

    They have been clever enough to sell this weakness as a virtue, calling it tradition and pretending they have no choice. But believe me, they catch it hard at literary festivals.

    Sheila Heti

    Where is the line the between literature and life? Between identity and performance? Between style and substance? Is there a line at all?

    John Banville

    “I don’t want to write about human behavior,” John Banville told The Paris Review. “If I can catch the play of light on a wall, and catch it just so, that is enough for me.”

    For Banville sentences, images and words have become the alpha and the omega. “Linguistic beauty,” he continued, can be pursued “as an end in itself.”

    Jonathan Franzen

    At a time when the phrase “literary event” is a quaint anachronism (see Vargas Llosa’s Notes on the Death of Culture), a new novel from Jonathan Franzen may be as close as book lovers can come these days to tweezing a piece of the nation’s attention.

     

    Siri Hustvedt

    Just two weeks after Amanda Filipacchi placed The Blazing World atop her list, we are proud to welcome its author, Siri Hustvedt (hoost-ved) to Top Ten Land.

     

    Amanda Filipacchi

    She debuted with a funny and altogether winning novel that includes an 11 year-old girl’s seduction of a 29 year-old man (Nude Men, 1993). She followed that with the darkly humorous, tale of a young woman who is transformed from drama school dropout to Oscar winner with a little help from a man who imprisons her in his cloud-filled home Vapor (1999).

    Irvine Welsh

    Sure, we could drop some giddy adjectival s-bombs and f-bombs (but never c-bombs) to express our delight. Instead we’ll just say aye, aye, min to our 166th member of Top Ten Land, Irvine Welsh.

     

    Stephen King

    Stephen King is in the news for at least two reasons this week. First, a prison break in upstate New York seems almost an homage to his terrific novel, The Shawshank Redemption, with a twist – in real life, the bad guys really are bad.

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    New List

    Joyce Carol Oates

    1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866).
    2. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922).
    3. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929).
    4. The poems of Emily Dickinson (1830–86).
    5. The stories of Franz Kafka (1883–1924).
    6. The Red and the Black by Stendhal (1830).
    7. The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence (1915).
    8. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence (1920).
    9. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851).
    10. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884).




     

    Classic List

    Mary Gaitskill

    1. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922).
    2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).
    3. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (1962).
    4. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853).
    5. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857).
    6. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1927).
    7. Gusev by Anton Chekhov (1860–1904).
    8. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (1904).
    9. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842).
    10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (1831).

     





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