Friday, February 23, 2007

Writers pick their top 10 books

According to the London Times:

Leading writers from Britain, America and Australia have been asked to list their top ten works of literature, and the results will be published in a book next month.

The top-rated work was Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. His other great epic, War and Peace, came third. Two other Russians also made the top ten. Vladimir Nabokov’s infamous novel Lolita came fourth and the stories of Anton Chekov ninth.

Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary came second. Shakespeare was the highest rated British author, coming sixth with Hamlet. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain was voted the greatest American novel. The only woman to make the top ten was George Eliot with Middlemarch.

Read the article to find out: how McEwan, Amis, and Rushdie fared; Peter Carey's favorite book; Stephen King's singular choice for the top spot; Sven Birkerts claim for what unifying notion defines the list.

In a companion piece, Eric Wagner has a few choice observations:
I’m not shocked to learn that Hiassen’s top novel is Joseph Heller’s Catch22; nor that Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five and Martin Amis’s Money also appear on his list. I adore Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda; of course he chose Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera and Great Expectations, too ... the flip side of his own novel, Jack Maggs.
David Mitchell chooses Chekhov’s novella The Duel, saying that he would save it “from a burning house before everything else I’ve read”, while the American novelist A.M. Homes ranks Nabokov’s Lolita below the children’s book Flat Stanley.
Better yet:
Annie Proulx, author of The Shipping News, provides her list (which begins with Homer’s Odyssey and ends with the haiku of Basho) with this qualification: “I find this list-of-ten-books project to be difficult, pointless and wrongheaded.” Hard to figure why she bothered to contribute, then.
Why, indeed?

Read on:
--Marshal Zeringue