Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fifty Other Great 20th-Century English-Language Books: A Less-Than-Obvious List

Having recently annotated the Modern Library's list of the greatest 20th-century novels and having linked to Larry McCaffery's excellent list composed in response to the ML list, I here present my own list, in no particular order, of 50 great English-language works of fiction that appear on only one or neither of the above lists. I will avoid obvious choices (Ulysses, The Great Gatsby, Lolita, Absalom, Absalom!), not because they are not deserving (they deserve all the praise they have received), but because they tend to appear on everyone's lists, thus taking up space that might be better used to name great titles many people haven't read.
  1. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.
  2. Cane by Jean Toomer.
  3. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (trans. by C. K. Scott Moncrieff).
  4. Babel 17 by Samuel Delany.
  5. Steps by Jerzy Kosinski.
  6. The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski.
  7. A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter.
  8. On The Yard by Malcolm Braly
  9. Downriver by Iain Sinclair.
  10. Mercier and Camier by Samuel Beckett.
  11. Crash by J. G. Ballard.
  12. Money by Martin Amis
  13. Time's Arrow by Martin Amis.
  14. Angels by Denis Johnson.
  15. The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst.
  16. Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee.
  17. His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman.
  18. Lanark by Alasdair Gray.
  19. Call It Sleep by Henry Roth.
  20. The Human Factor by Graham Greene.
  21. Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth.
  22. Postcards by Annie Proulx.
  23. Why Are We In Vietnam? by Norman Mailer.
  24. Lincoln by Gore Vidal.
  25. A Cool Million by Nathanael West.
  26. The Atlas by William T. Vollmann.
  27. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon.
  28. Running Dog by Don DeLillo.
  29. Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone.
  30. Children of Light by Robert Stone.
  31. Sula by Toni Morrison.
  32. Transparent Things by Vladimir Nabokov.
  33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey.
  34. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.
  35. All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers by Larry McMurtry.
  36. Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer.
  37. Rabbit, Run by John Updike.
  38. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.
  39. The World According to Garp by John Irving.
  40. The Field of Vision by Wright Morris.
  41. How To Save Your Own Life by Erica Jong.
  42. Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver.
  43. The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth.
  44. Omensetter's Luck by William H. Gass
  45. Murphy by Samuel Beckett.
  46. The Beautiful Room Is Empty by Edmund White.
  47. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (trans. by Gregory Rabassa).
  48. Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner.
  49. The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien.
  50. The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever.

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