Contemporary and Deliberate

In response to my list of most-read authors Kevin of Interpolations asked a great question:

Any authors who haven’t written five books yet that you think might eventually make your list?

I thought a lot about the original list [I forgot Nicholson Baker so added him to that list], particularly those authors I consider favourites though I’ve only read three or four of their oeuvre. But I like Kevin’s question, specifically about those authors that haven’t yet written five books. The “haven’t yet written” rules out many more prolific or established contemporary authors. It also excludes authors like Jim Crace and Justin Cartwright, that have written more than I appreciated.

It’s difficult and uncertain to compile. I will take “five books” to mean five novels (short stories and poems excluded). I realise that stretches the definition but hey ho. These authors give me enjoyment and I would in all likelihood “buy-on-publication,” regardless of critical reaction:

  1. Yiyun Li
  2. Tom McCarthy
  3. Zadie Smith
  4. Anne Michaels
  5. Adam Thirlwell
  6. James Wood

It would be fascinating to see who would make your list.

9 thoughts on “Contemporary and Deliberate

  1. >Dear Anthony,I will post on this later–but I heartily endorse Yiyun Li–she would certainly make it and three recent finds are also contenders based on very slender opera–Julie Orringer, Helen Simonson, and Zoe Heller.But I'll spell this all out chez moi.Thanks for your notes.shalom,Steven

  2. >Steven – Yes, Julie Orringer: that remarkable collection of short stories. Wonderful. Have you read her debut novel yet? I plan to read the other two.

  3. >I second the comment about Julie Orringer, after reading her short story collection, I am ready to buy her new novel.Other less-than-five authors would include Kate Walbert and Yiyun Li.

  4. >Dear Anthony,I'm reading the Debut novel now and find it compelling, but problematic in certain anachronistic attitudes. However, I thought I'd note, that I saw your list here and noted Tom McCarthy, but didn't really go out of my way to really pay attention. Then, by a fortunate synchronicity, I was at the library yesterday and looking through a list of the best Fantasy and Horror of 2008 or 2007 (I forget) and his novel led the list. I would be lying if I said that the name rang a bell; however, I checked the book out and will be reading it shortly. Then, to finish the anecdote, I come back here and realize that he was on your list of writers to read, right up there with Yiyun Li, which puts him very, very high up indeed.Thank you. Now I shall have to pay more attention.shalom,Steven

  5. >Steven – I look forward to hearing more about Orringer's debut.Which book of McCarthy's made the best Fantasy and Horror list? Men in Space? I haven't read that yet. His debut is not without flaws but displays significant potential.

  6. >Dear Anthony–I neglected the title, did I not–sorry. It was _Remainders_ and having read the first chapter at the library, I was hooked enough to bring it home. I nearly bought it this afternoon in an outing to a bookstore–but decided I would read it first and see.Thanks again for the mention of him. It encourages me to read one that may just have been a shelf-sitter.shalom,Steven

  7. >I decided to take this up myself, and let me say, it was tough! My list, if you can even call it that, is here. Yours seems a lot more worthwhile, probably, but with the exception of James Wood I haven't read any of the writers on it! I need to get cracking.

  8. >Nicole – It was tough to compile this list and made me appreciate what scant attention I pay to less-established, contemporary writers unless raved about by a critical source I respect, blogger or otherwise.

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