Michael Cunningham

Fairy tale writers are the worst closers in the biz. Oh sure, they can spin a good yarn, full of magic, romance and now I can’t sleep at night terror. But when the time comes to wrap it all up, the best most can come up with is “and they lived happily ever after.”




They have been clever enough to sell this weakness as a virtue, calling it tradition and pretending they have no choice. But believe me, they catch it hard at literary festivals.

Sheila Heti

Where is the line the between literature and life? Between identity and performance? Between style and substance? Is there a line at all?

John Banville

“I don’t want to write about human behavior,” John Banville told The Paris Review. “If I can catch the play of light on a wall, and catch it just so, that is enough for me.”

For Banville sentences, images and words have become the alpha and the omega. “Linguistic beauty,” he continued, can be pursued “as an end in itself.”

Jonathan Franzen

At a time when the phrase “literary event” is a quaint anachronism (see Vargas Llosa’s Notes on the Death of Culture), a new novel from Jonathan Franzen may be as close as book lovers can come these days to tweezing a piece of the nation’s attention.


Siri Hustvedt

Just two weeks after Amanda Filipacchi placed The Blazing World atop her list, we are proud to welcome its author, Siri Hustvedt (hoost-ved) to Top Ten Land.


Amanda Filipacchi

She debuted with a funny and altogether winning novel that includes an 11 year-old girl’s seduction of a 29 year-old man (Nude Men, 1993). She followed that with the darkly humorous, tale of a young woman who is transformed from drama school dropout to Oscar winner with a little help from a man who imprisons her in his cloud-filled home Vapor (1999).

Irvine Welsh

Sure, we could drop some giddy adjectival s-bombs and f-bombs (but never c-bombs) to express our delight. Instead we’ll just say aye, aye, min to our 166th member of Top Ten Land, Irvine Welsh.


Stephen King

Stephen King is in the news for at least two reasons this week. First, a prison break in upstate New York seems almost an homage to his terrific novel, The Shawshank Redemption, with a twist – in real life, the bad guys really are bad.

Christopher Bollen

   We are delighted to welcome the American writer Christopher Bollen as the 165th member of Top Ten land while he is basking in the glow of the warm reviews he is receiving for his second novel, Orient.


New List

Emma Donoghue

1.Clarissaby Samuel Richardson (1747–48).
2. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1595).
3. Emma by Jane Austen (1816).
4. Great Expectationsby Charles Dickens (1860–61).
5. The Poisonwood Bibleby Barbara Kingsolver (1998).
6. Red Shift by Alan Garner (1973).
7.Les Liaisons Dangereusesby Pierre Choderlos de Laclos (1782).
8. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells Allby Allan Gurganus (1989).
9. The Passionby Jeanette Winterson (1987).
10.Ulvertonby Adam Thorpe (1992).


Classic List

Mary Gaitskill

1. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922).
2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).
3. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (1962).
4. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1853).
5. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857).
6. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1927).
7. Gusev by Anton Chekhov (1860–1904).
8. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (1904).
9. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842).
10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (1831).

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