Monday September 28th, 2009

At the Wire, It’s Franzen

The Millions wrapped up its list of the 21st century’s best novels last week with The Corrections at numero uno. Eek. Not a choice I would make — or sanction, or even learn of without gasping — but all’s fair in democracy, I suppose. The list of participants in the poll was impressive (I snuck in somehow).

Also of interest is the comparison of the panel’s top 20 to the top 20 of Millions readers. The readers, I think, were collectively smarter than the panel about Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and Atonement by Ian McEwan, ranking them higher. They also recognized Richard Russo (Empire Falls) and Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay), which the panel didn’t. (I’m a big Russo fan, but think he published his best work in the 20th century; and I didn’t love Chabon’s novel, but given how many others seemed to, I’m pretty shocked it didn’t make the panel’s top 20.)

The full top five I submitted, for what it’s worth: Gilead, Atonement, It’s All Right Now by Charles Chadwick, The Master by Colm Tóibín, and The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall.