Lev Grossman's Top Ten List

 

Our newest list comes from Lev Grossman, who has pulled off the magical feat of creating literary works with bestseller appeal. Lev’s work is informed by the fantastic.

Warp (1997) centers on a verbally clever Star Trek fan on the cusp (we hope) of adulthood, who imagines himself in various episodes of the show and as a knight-errant saving damsel’s in distress.

Codex (2004) is a cerebral thriller about an investment banker whose discovers a rare medieval codex that is eerily similar to the computer game that obsesses him.

The Magicians (2009) is a coming-of-age saga of a fantasy novel devotee whose education at a college for sorcery in upstate New York provides him entrée to the Narnia-esque world of Fillory described in his favorite books.

The Magician King (2011), which the New York Times called a “serious, heartfelt novel [that] turns the machinery of fantasy inside out,” continues the adventures in Fillory on a magic sailing ship that leads the characters back to their former world.

 Lev is also a terrific critic, reviewing chiefly for Time. (I had the pleasure of serving with Lev on the Board of the National Book Critics Circle a while back, a sterling group that included Rebecca Skloot and John Freeman).

  * Check out Lev’s website.

  *  Follow him on Twitter.

  *  Read a Daily Beast interview with him.

  * Watch John Green’s discussion with Lev.

 

With only a bit further ado, here’s Lev’s list. I told him one pick was totally new to me, The Once and Future King by T.H. White. Lev said the book “is a wee bit of a crusade for me.  I've written about him a lot - for example this NPR piece.” He also wrote a brief description for us:

“T.H. White is nowhere near as well-known as C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien, but he did as much as either of them to create the modern fantasy novel as we know it. The Once and Future King - White's one and only fully realized masterpiece - is his translation of the great English epic, the tragedy of King Arthur, into the idiom of 20th century realism, using language so fresh and vivid and psychologically acute, you'd think it had all happened last week instead of 15 centuries ago.”

 

Lev Grossman’s Top Ten List

1. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857).

2. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925).

3. Arcadia by Tom Stoppard (1993).

4. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922).

5. The Trial by Franz Kafka (1925).

6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (1950-56).

7. The Once and Future King by T.H. White (1958).

8. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (1945).

9. Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer (1381).

10. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol (1842). 

Classic List

Chris Bohjalian

1. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1321).
2. Ulysses by James Joyce (1922).
3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1860–61).
4. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877).
5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925).
6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960).
7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847).
8. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884).
9. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952).
10. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1862).

New List

Laila Lalami

1. Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee (1980).
2. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (1977).
3. A Man of the People by Chinua Achebe (1966).
4. The Lover by Marguerite Duras (1984).
5. For Bread Alone by Mohamed Choukri (1973).
6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1986).
7. A House for Mr. Biswas by V. S. Naipaul (1961).
8. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952).
9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967).
10. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (1984).

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