May 29, 2006

Best American Fiction of the Past 25 Years

Now, it's not poetry - but I suspect that most readers of this blog are also readers of fiction.

Early this year, The New York Times' Book Review's editor, Sam Tanenhaus, sent out a short letter to a couple of hundred prominent writers, critics, editors and other literary sages, asking them to please identify "the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years.

The winner was Beloved by Toni Morrison. The runners-up were

  • Underworld/Don DeLillo
  • Blood Meridian/Cormac McCarthy
  • Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels/John Updike (Rabbit at Rest,Rabbit Is Rich,Rabbit Redux,Rabbit, Run)
  • American Pastoral/Philip Roth
And a group that also received multiple votes from the respondents:

  • A Confederacy of Dunces/John Kennedy Toole
  • Housekeeping/Marilynne Robinson
  • Winter's Tale/Mark Helprin
  • White Noise/Don DeLillo
  • The Counterlife/Philip Roth
  • Libra/Don DeLillo
  • Where I'm Calling From/Raymond Carver
  • The Things They Carried/Tim O'Brien
  • Mating/Norman Rush
  • Jesus' Son/Denis Johnson
  • Operation Shylock/Philip Roth
  • Independence Day/Richard Ford
  • Sabbath's Theater/Philip Roth
  • Border Trilogy/Cormac McCarthy (Cities of the Plain, The Crossing, All the Pretty Horses)
  • The Human Stain/Philip Roth
  • The Known World/Edward P. Jones
  • The Plot Against America/Philip Roth
I'm curious about you poets out there weighing in on the list - if you had to pick one on the list or of your own choosing, what would it be? Leave a comment below and feel free to add an explanation or not.


  1. The Prince of Tides/Pat Conroy

  2. What? No John Gardner?!? The Sunlight Dialogues.


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