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Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Great American Yeti

In the New York Times, A.O. Scott exhumes once again the body of the Great American Novel: "The hippogriff, a monstrous hybrid of griffin and horse, is often taken as the very symbol of fantastical impossibility, a unicorn's unicorn. But the Great American Novel, while also a hybrid (crossbred of romance and reportage, high philosophy and low gossip, wishful thinking and hard-nosed skepticism), may be more like the yeti or the Loch Ness monster - or sasquatch, if we want to keep things homegrown. It is, in other words, a creature that quite a few people - not all of them certifiably crazy, some of them bearing impressive documentation - claim to have seen."

He goes on to discuss the NYTBR's attempt to get writers, critics and academicians to point to "the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years." Their top five, in ascending order: American Pastoral, with 7 votes; Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian and Updike's four-in-one Rabbit Angstrom, tied with 8 votes each; Don DeLillo's Underworld, with 11; and, solidly ahead of the rest, Toni Morrison's Beloved, with 15.

Remarkable. Perhaps what helped is that Beloved is, as he puts it, "a staple of the college literary curriculum."

Now, does anyone want to attempt to list the best novels by Indians writing in English in the last 25 years? (Which rules out Midnight's Children -- it's been just over 25 years since that was published.)


  • That's easy. The Shadowlines.

    By Blogger uma, at 5:44 PM  

  • The Glass Palace

    By Anonymous Sash, at 8:13 PM  

  • An Equal Music
    A Fine Balance
    Moor's Last Sigh
    (maybe) Red Earth and Pouring Rain

    (you did say list)

    By Blogger Falstaff, at 11:25 AM  

  • The Namesake.. yes? no? maybe?

    By Anonymous Sash, at 7:08 PM  

  • I'd definitely pick 'The Shadow Lines'...and maybe even 'A Suitable Boy', for being capaciously Indian...

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 8:08 PM  

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