Christopher Bollen

   We are delighted to welcome the American writer Christopher Bollen as the 165th member of Top Ten land while he is basking in the glow of the warm reviews he is receiving for his second novel, Orient.

   Praised by Ivy Pochoda in the Los Angeles Times as, perhaps, “this summer's most ambitious thriller or this summer's most thrilling work of literary fiction,” this smart,  edge-of-your seat tale focuses on a small Long island town gripped by a series of mysterious deaths and one young man, a loner taken in by a local, tries to piece together the crimes before his own time runs out.

“The American author Christopher Bollen writes expansive, psychologically probing novels in the manner of Updike, Eugenides and Franzen,” Jake Kerridge observed in The Telegraph, “but he is also an avowed disciple of Agatha Christie. In his second novel he has annexed the real-life hamlet of Orient, on the easternmost tip of the North Fork of Long Island, to turn it into an American equivalent of those picturesque Christie villages where murder is an aesthetic as well as a moral outrage.”

In his USA Today review, Eliot Schrefer writes that after the the locals' eyes turn on a longtime resident bachelor, Paul, when he invites a 19-year-old drifter named Mills to live with him. Already quick to lock elbows against an outsider, the residents let their suspicions fall on the stranger first when murders begin. Mills isn't without allies in this small North Fork community, however. He soon develops a crush on the lunky mean boy next door, methodically working his way into the teenager's bedroom. He also connects with Beth, a painter afraid to announce her pregnancy to her brooding Romanian installation artist husband. From there Bollen expands his canvas to more and more of the town's residents, investing each with a life so specific and true that Orient fulfills fiction's most elusive purpose: to report accurately on life as it really is. The suspenseful premise is misleading: This novel is more Middlemarch than The Talented Mr. Ripley.”

Christopher’s list is a reminder of how many great books there out there. As mentioned, he is the 165th contributor; in all those writers have selected about 700 different works. We were not surprised that he would add three titles to our corpus. We were a bit stunned that they are all extremely well-known contemporary masterpieces: The Executioner’s Song, The Quiet American and The Talented Mr. Ripley. What else remains beyond our scope – for now? Stay tuned!

Christopher Bollen’s Top Ten List

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925).
2. Howards End by E. M. Forster (1921).
3. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988).
4. The Waves by Virginia Woolf (1931).
5. The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer (1979).
6. The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (1351–53).
7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1966).
8. The Quiet American by Graham Greene (1956).
9. The Bacchae by Euripides (408–406 b.c.e.).
10. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955).