Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Elizabeth Kostova: favorite books

Elizabeth Kostova is the author of The Historian and The Swan Thieves.

She recently told The Daily Beast about her favorite books. One novel on the list:
Anna Karenina
by Leo (Lev) Tolstoy (Tolstoi)

Happy families are all alike. Girl meets boy. Girl is previously married to bureaucratic dud. Boy is dashing officer. Not a good combination. With two other major plots thrown in; 25 percent more free. Hundreds of pages later, the reader has learned everything there is to know about the downward spiral of illicit love, but also (if the reader happens to be a writer, or interested in the craft of the novel) how a large cast can be handled with a natural, realistic, sweeping brush—if, of course, one is Tolstoy or Tolstoi.
Read about another book on Kostova's list.

Anna Karenina also appears on James Gray's list of best books, Marie Arana's list of the best books about love, Ha Jin's most important books list, Tom Perrotta's ten favorite books list, Claire Messud's list of her five most important books, Alexander McCall Smith's list of his five most important books, Mohsin Hamid's list of his ten favorite books, Louis Begley's list of favorite novels about cheating lovers, and among the top ten works of literature according to Peter Carey and Norman Mailer. John Mullan put it on his lists of ten of the best births in literature and ten of the best ice-skating episodes in literature.

Also see: Elizabeth Kostova's top ten books for winter night.

--Marshal Zeringue