The greatest American novel?

A survey of "the world's literary elite" to name the best American novel of the last quarter century has portions of the literati hopping.

According to
The London Telegraph, "200 prominent writers and literary experts," were polled by The New York Times, among them British novelists Julian Barnes and Ian McEwan and American authors Russell Banks, Don DeLillo, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nadine Gordimer, Jim Harrison, John Irving, Stephen King, Wole Soyinka, William Styron, Studs Terkel, Anne Tyler and Tom Wolfe.

The winner? Toni Morrison, author of
Beloved and other novels. And, inexplicably, that's what's got the likes of Roger Kimball of The New Criterion so up in arms. Kimball told The Telegraph that Morrison is someone "whose opinions and skin colour immunise her from criticism and whose cliché-riddled, melodramatic prose impart a hungry urgency to the tired Left-liberal yearnings of the paper's cultural commissars. Pathetic, but wholly typical."


Apparently, old white guys are supposed to win accolades like this, not African American women of a certain age. (Morrison is 75.) Never mind that Beloved won the Pullitzer in 1988. Never mind that it's widely taught in secondary and post-secondary schools or that Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. Never mind that the book is... well... beloved.

Personally, I'm happy to see Morrison given this honor. Beloved is a wonderful book. And girlz rock!

See The New York Times piece here and The Telegraph piece here.

And happy reading. Everyone knows selecting books for things like this is highly subjective. But if it gets people picking up books and reading -- and it does -- it's a good thing.


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