Wednesday, February 3, 2010

TIME Magazine's 100 Best Novels: UPDATE

TIME Magazine's 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century is a huge list, brimming with some safe and obvious choices and a couple daring choices. When I last catalogued the list, I had read only 31. Now that's it's been a long time, I'm going to details the books I have read since I posted the list. This post has some shared content with some other posts, so bear with me. You can read all three posts about the catalogue here, here and here.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell
(I read the first three books of twelve, that counts, right?)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Light in August by William Faulkner
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Possession by A.S. Byatt
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

So good for me, right? I read 6 more on the list. That brings me up to thirty seven percent completion. As well as more books that I've read, I found out about most of the books, and whether or not I would be interested in reading. My endeavour to read all the Booker Prizes will do double duty as a bunch of Booker Prizes show up on this list.

While on the flipside, my Booker Prize quest allows me to see the facetiousness of both lists. These are such arbitrary lists. The Booker Prize leaves behind massive literary icons such as Robertson Davies while giving prizes to some minor works by major authors such as The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis (it should be Lucky Jim) and In A Free State by V. S. Naipaul (it should be A House For Mr Biswas). On the other hand, this TIME Magazine list is ignoring huge talents such as J. M. Coetzee, Richard Powers, John Irving, D. H. Lawrence, Wallace Stegner, Peter Carey and a bunch of others. 

Bias seems to be the pervading theme. Bias for their home country and bias for safe writers. Only one African author appears on the TIME Magazine list: Chinua Achebe, whereas he has only been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. And again, this same complaint I raise, where is the literature of South Africa, New Zealand or Australia? 

Well, we can't always win. Maybe once I've finished both lists, and conquered a couple other lists I will divulge my top fifty novels of the 20th century. Maybe.

1 comment:

matthew. said...

Finished another yesterday, Appointment in Samarra