New List

Michael Connelly

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
2. The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West (1939)
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (1962)
5. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1962)
6. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (1940)
7. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (1953)
8. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
9. The Public Burning by Robert Coover (1976)
10. Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain (1941)







The Book: The Top Ten: Writers pick their favorite books

Edwidge Danticat Appreciates Jacques Roumain

Appreciation of Jacques Roumain’s Masters of the Dew by Edwidge Danticat

This novel charmed Langston Hughes and Mercer Cook so much that when they visited Haiti in the 1940s they decided to translate it. Theirs remains the only English translation. This is the plot: A Haitian young man goes to Cuba to cut sugarcane in the 1930s. When he returns to his village in rural Haiti, he finds that a drought has ravaged the entire area and a Romeo and Juliet–type feud between the two most powerful families stands in the community’s way of finding a solution.

Like Romeo, the young man, Manuel, falls in love with the stunning daughter of the family that despises his and a battle ensues that results in tragedy, with some measure of hope. (To say much more would be giving away too much of the plot of this slim volume.) The book has often been called a peasant novel, but it is also an environmental novel, as well as a love story.

I read this book when I was ten years old; it was the first novel in which I recognized people I knew living in circumstances similar to my life and my world. It was also the first time that I realized books could not only help us escape but hold a mirror to our lives, to help us examine a problem and ponder —along with the characters —a possible solution. It was my first engagée or socially engaged novel, one that showed me that the novel could have many roles, that fiction could be used for different purposes without losing its artistic merit. It made me want to write the types of books that could inform and entertain as well as help others live, through a powerful narrative, a heartbreaking, painful, and even redemptive experience.

Edwidge Danticat’s Top Ten List

1. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
2. The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)
3. Germinal by Émile Zola (1884)
4. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952)
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967)
6. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)
7. Night by Elie Wiesel (1958)
8. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)
9. The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925)
10. Masters of the Dew by Jacques Roumain (1947)


Edwidge Danticat (born 1969) is a Haitian-American writer of novels, short stories, memoirs and essays. Her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994, Oprah Winfrey Book Club) is the semi-autobiographical tale of a 12 girl who leaves Haiti to reunite with her parents in New York. She followed that with a collection of stories Krik? Krak! (1996) was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her next novel, The Farming of Bones (1997, American Book Award) was based on the massacre of Haitians in 1937. Her other works of fiction include The Dew Breaker (2004, The Story Prize), Claire of the Sea Light (2013) and Everything Inside: Stories (2019). Her works of nonfiction include the memoirs Brother, I’m Dying (2007) and The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story (2017), and the essay collection Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (2010). Her many honors include a MacArthur “Genius” Award.



Classic List

John Irving

1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1860–61).
2. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (1891).
3. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851).
4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850).
5. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1849–50).
6. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (1886).
7. The Tin Drum by Günter Grass (1959).
8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967).
9. The Deptford trilogy by Robertson Davies (1983).
10. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857).