Thursday, October 16, 2003

The 100 greatest novels of all time: The list

Don't like the list? Put your thoughts direct to Robert McCrum

Sunday October 12, 2003
The Observer

1. Don Quixote Miguel De Cervantes
The story of the gentle knight and his servant Sancho Panza has entranced readers for centuries.

2. Pilgrim's Progress John Bunyan
The one with the Slough of Despond and Vanity Fair.

3. Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe
The first English novel.

4. Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift
A wonderful satire that still works for all ages, despite the savagery of Swift's vision.

5. Tom Jones Henry Fielding
The adventures of a high-spirited orphan boy: an unbeatable plot and a lot of sex ending in a blissful marriage.

6. Clarissa Samuel Richardson
One of the longest novels in the English language, but unputdownable.

7. Tristram Shandy Laurence Sterne
One of the first bestsellers, dismissed by Dr Johnson as too fashionable for its own good.

8. Dangerous Liaisons Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
An epistolary novel and a handbook for seducers: foppish, French, and ferocious.

9. Emma Jane Austen
Near impossible choice between this and Pride and Prejudice. But Emma never fails to fascinate and annoy.

10. Frankenstein Mary Shelley
Inspired by spending too much time with Shelley and Byron.

11. Nightmare Abbey Thomas Love Peacock
A classic miniature: a brilliant satire on the Romantic novel.

12. The Black Sheep Honore De Balzac
Two rivals fight for the love of a femme fatale. Wrongly overlooked.

13. The Charterhouse of Parma Stendhal
Penetrating and compelling chronicle of life in an Italian court in post-Napoleonic France.

14. The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
A revenge thriller also set in France after Bonaparte: a masterpiece of adventure writing.

15. Sybil Benjamin Disraeli
Apart from Churchill, no other British political figure shows literary genius.

16. David Copperfield Charles Dickens
This highly autobiographical novel is the one its author liked best.

17. Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte
Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff have passed into the language. Impossible to ignore.

18. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
Obsessive emotional grip and haunting narrative.

19. Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
The improving tale of Becky Sharp.

20. The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
A classic investigation of the American mind.

21. Moby-Dick Herman Melville
'Call me Ishmael' is one of the most famous opening sentences of any novel.

22. Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
You could summarise this as a story of adultery in provincial France, and miss the point entirely.

23. The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
Gripping mystery novel of concealed identity, abduction, fraud and mental cruelty.

24. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland Lewis Carroll
A story written for the nine-year-old daughter of an Oxford don that still baffles most kids.

25. Little Women Louisa M. Alcott
Victorian bestseller about a New England family of girls.

26. The Way We Live Now Anthony Trollope
A majestic assault on the corruption of late Victorian England.

27. Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
The supreme novel of the married woman's passion for a younger man.

28. Daniel Deronda George Eliot
A passion and an exotic grandeur that is strange and unsettling.

29. The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky
Mystical tragedy by the author of Crime and Punishment.

30. The Portrait of a Lady Henry James
The story of Isabel Archer shows James at his witty and polished best.

31. Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
Twain was a humorist, but this picture of Mississippi life is profoundly moral and still incredibly influential.

32. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson
A brilliantly suggestive, resonant study of human duality by a natural storyteller.

33. Three Men in a Boat Jerome K. Jerome
One of the funniest English books ever written.

34. The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
A coded and epigrammatic melodrama inspired by his own tortured homosexuality.

35. The Diary of a Nobody George Grossmith
This classic of Victorian suburbia will always be renowned for the character of Mr Pooter.

36. Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
Its savage bleakness makes it one of the first twentieth-century novels.

37. The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers
A prewar invasion-scare spy thriller by a writer later shot for his part in the Irish republican rising.

38. The Call of the Wild Jack London
The story of a dog who joins a pack of wolves after his master's death.

39. Nostromo Joseph Conrad
Conrad's masterpiece: a tale of money, love and revolutionary politics.

40. The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
This children's classic was inspired by bedtime stories for Grahame's son.

41. In Search of Lost Time Marcel Proust
An unforgettable portrait of Paris in the belle epoque. Probably the longest novel on this list.

42. The Rainbow D. H. Lawrence
Novels seized by the police, like this one, have a special afterlife.

43. The Good Soldier Ford Madox Ford
This account of the adulterous lives of two Edwardian couples is a classic of unreliable narration.

44. The Thirty-Nine Steps John Buchan
A classic adventure story for boys, jammed with action, violence and suspense.

45. Ulysses James Joyce
Also pursued by the British police, this is a novel more discussed than read.

46. Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf
Secures Woolf's position as one of the great twentieth-century English novelists.

47. A Passage to India E. M. Forster
The great novel of the British Raj, it remains a brilliant study of empire.

48. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
The quintessential Jazz Age novel.

49. The Trial Franz Kafka
The enigmatic story of Joseph K.

50. Men Without Women Ernest Hemingway
He is remembered for his novels, but it was the short stories that first attracted notice.
51. Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Celine
The experiences of an unattractive slum doctor during the Great War: a masterpiece of linguistic innovation.

52. As I Lay Dying William Faulkner
A strange black comedy by an American master.

53. Brave New World Aldous Huxley
Dystopian fantasy about the world of the seventh century AF (after Ford).

54. Scoop Evelyn Waugh
The supreme Fleet Street novel.

55. USA John Dos Passos
An extraordinary trilogy that uses a variety of narrative devices to express the story of America.

56. The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler
Introducing Philip Marlowe: cool, sharp, handsome - and bitterly alone.

57. The Pursuit Of Love Nancy Mitford
An exquisite comedy of manners with countless fans.

58. The Plague Albert Camus
A mysterious plague sweeps through the Algerian town of Oran.

59. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
This tale of one man's struggle against totalitarianism has been appropriated the world over.

60. Malone Dies Samuel Beckett
Part of a trilogy of astonishing monologues in the black comic voice of the author of Waiting for Godot.

61. Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
A week in the life of Holden Caulfield. A cult novel that still mesmerises.

62. Wise Blood Flannery O'Connor
A disturbing novel of religious extremism set in the Deep South.

63. Charlotte's Web E. B. White
How Wilbur the pig was saved by the literary genius of a friendly spider.

64. The Lord Of The Rings J. R. R. Tolkien
Enough said!

65. Lucky Jim Kingsley Amis
An astonishing debut: the painfully funny English novel of the Fifties.

66. Lord of the Flies William Golding
Schoolboys become savages: a bleak vision of human nature.

67. The Quiet American Graham Greene
Prophetic novel set in 1950s Vietnam.
68. On the Road Jack Kerouac
The Beat Generation bible.

69. Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
Humbert Humbert's obsession with Lolita is a tour de force of style and narrative.

70. The Tin Drum Gunter Grass
Hugely influential, Rabelaisian novel of Hitler's Germany.

71. Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
Nigeria at the beginning of colonialism. A classic of African literature.

72. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark
A writer who made her debut in The Observer - and her prose is like cut glass.

73. To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee
Scout, a six-year-old girl, narrates an enthralling story of racial prejudice in the Deep South.

74. Catch-22 Joseph Heller
'[He] would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; if he didn't want to he was sane and had to.'

75. Herzog Saul Bellow
Adultery and nervous breakdown in Chicago.

76. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A postmodern masterpiece.

77. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont Elizabeth Taylor
A haunting, understated study of old age.

78. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy John Le Carre
A thrilling elegy for post-imperial Britain.

79. Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
The definitive novelist of the African-American experience.

80. The Bottle Factory Outing Beryl Bainbridge
Macabre comedy of provincial life.

81. The Executioner's Song Norman Mailer
This quasi-documentary account of the life and death of Gary Gilmore is possibly his masterpiece.

82. If on a Winter's Night a Traveller Italo Calvino
A strange, compelling story about the pleasures of reading.

83. A Bend in the River V. S. Naipaul
The finest living writer of English prose. This is his masterpiece: edgily reminiscent of Heart of Darkness.

84. Waiting for the Barbarians J.M. Coetzee
Bleak but haunting allegory of apartheid by the Nobel prizewinner.

85. Housekeeping Marilynne Robinson
Haunting, poetic story, drowned in water and light, about three generations of women.

86. Lanark Alasdair Gray
Seething vision of Glasgow. A Scottish classic.

87. The New York Trilogy Paul Auster
Dazzling metaphysical thriller set in the Manhattan of the 1970s.

88. The BFG Roald Dahl
A bestseller by the most popular postwar writer for children of all ages.

89. The Periodic Table Primo Levi
A prose poem about the delights of chemistry.

90. Money Martin Amis
The novel that bags Amis's place on any list.

91. An Artist of the Floating World Kazuo Ishiguro
A collaborator from prewar Japan reluctantly discloses his betrayal of friends and family.

92. Oscar And Lucinda Peter Carey
A great contemporary love story set in nineteenth-century Australia by double Booker prizewinner.

93. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting Milan Kundera
Inspired by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, this is a magical fusion of history, autobiography and ideas.

94. Haroun and the Sea af Stories Salman Rushdie
In this entrancing story Rushdie plays with the idea of narrative itself.

95. La Confidential James Ellroy
Three LAPD detectives are brought face to face with the secrets of their corrupt and violent careers.

96. Wise Children Angela Carter
A theatrical extravaganza by a brilliant exponent of magic realism.

97. Atonement Ian McEwan
Acclaimed short-story writer achieves a contemporary classic of mesmerising narrative conviction.

98. Northern Lights Philip Pullman
Lyra's quest weaves fantasy, horror and the play of ideas into a truly great contemporary children's book.

99. American Pastoral Philip Roth
For years, Roth was famous for Portnoy's Complaint . Recently, he has enjoyed an extraordinary revival.

100. Austerlitz W. G. Sebald
Posthumously published volume in a sequence of dream-like fictions spun from memory, photographs and the German past.

Who did we miss?
So, are you congratulating yourself on having read everything on our list or screwing the newspaper up into a ball and aiming it at the nearest bin?
Are you wondering what happened to all those American writers from Bret Easton Ellis to Jeffrey Eugenides, from Jonathan Franzen to Cormac McCarthy?
Have women been short-changed? Should we have included Pat Barker, Elizabeth Bowen, A.S. Byatt, Penelope Fitzgerald, Doris Lessing and Iris Murdoch?
What's happened to novels in translation such as Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, Hesse's Siddhartha, Mishima's The Sea of Fertility, Süskind's Perfume and Zola's Germinal?
Writers such as J.G. Ballard, Julian Barnes, Anthony Burgess, Bruce Chatwin, Robertson Davies, John Fowles, Nick Hornby, Russell Hoban, Somerset Maugham and V.S. Pritchett narrowly missed the final hundred. Were we wrong to lose them?
Let us know what you think. Send your own suggestions for the 100 best books ever to:
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

Wednesday, October 15, 2003



T.C. Boyle, "Drop City" (Viking/Penguin Group USA)
Shirley Hazzard, "The Great Fire" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Edward P. Jones, "The Known World" (Amistad/HarperCollins)
Scott Spencer, "A Ship Made of Paper" (Ecco/HarperCollins)
Marianne Wiggins, "Evidence of Things Unseen" (Simon & Schuster)


Anne Applebaum, "Gulag: A History" (Doubleday/Random House)
George Howe Colt, "The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American
Home" (Scribner/S&S)
John D’Emilio, "Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin"
(Free Press/S&S)
Carlos Eire, "Waiting For Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy"
(Free Press/S&S)
Erik Larson, "The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness
at the Fair That Changed America" (Crown Publishers/Random House)

Young People’s Literature

Paul Fleischman, "Breakout" (Cricket Books/A Marcato Books/ Carus
Polly Horvath, "The Canning Season" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Jim Murphy, "An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the
Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793" (Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin)
Richard Peck, "The River Between Us" (Dial Books/Penguin Group USA)
Jacqueline Woodson, "Locomotion" (G.P. Putnam’s Sons./Penguin Group


Carole Muske-Dukes, "Sparrow: Poems" (Random House)
Charles Simic, "The Voice at 3 A.M.: Selected Late and New Poems"
Louis Simpson, "The Owner of the House: New Collected Poems,
1940-2001" (BOA Editions)
C.K. Williams, "The Singing: Poems" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Kevin Young, "Jelly Roll: A Blues" (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

from Poynteronline
Posted, Oct. 13, 2003
Updated, Oct. 13, 2003

The First Draft of Mystery

By Robin Sloan
Online Reporter

There are a lot of would-be novelists in newsrooms across America.

Maybe you're one of them. If so, today's your lucky day, because I've got a sure-fire plan to go from writing police briefs to paperback best-sellers.

Here's what you do:

First, attend the University of Florida. Read all of Raymond Chandler's stories. Major in journalism, minor in creative writing.

Graduate. Get yourself to a newspaper in Florida.

Start on the cops beat, then move to feature writing.

Get a gig writing for the Fort Lauderdale News/Sun-Sentinel magazine during the height of the '80s crime wave in Florida, during that magic, morbid moment when Fort Lauderdale is the murder capital of the world. Write some awesome stories, and get short-listed for the Pulitzer.

As you're doing all this, write on your own time, too. Pen a couple of novels after hours -- but leave them in your desk drawer. They're just for practice.

Parlay your magazine experience into a gig at the Los Angeles Times. Now you're in Chandler's territory.

Wait three years. Publish your first mystery novel. Win a prize. Quit journalism.

More than a dozen years -- and books -- later, you'll find yourself at the Don CeSar, a huge, pinker-than-life hotel on Florida's St. Pete Beach.

You'll be talking to a room full of features-page editors from across the country. And here's what you'll say:

"It's safe to say I would not be standing here talking to you about my novels if I had not been a journalist first."

OK, maybe it won't go exactly like that. But that's what happened to Michael Connelly, who's gone from covering cops in Daytona Beach to selling millions of books around the world. And even if your path is, er, not precisely the same as his, there are some lessons to be gained from Connelly's experience.

The Telling Detail
Michael Connelly was working at the Sun-Sentinel magazine, and Fort Lauderdale was the most dangerous place in the country.

Let's see how the homicide squad operates, he thought. So he spent a week with them, going out whenever they were called, day or night.

The central character in his story was the squad's sergeant. At each murder scene, he would take off his glasses and crouch quietly beside the body. Connelly made a note of these solemn moments.

Later, at the very end of the week, he was talking to the sergeant for the last time. The man looked utterly exhausted. He took off his glasses.

And that's when Connelly saw the groove. When the sergeant took off his glasses and held them in his mouth as he crouched over the murder victims, his teeth were clenched so tight they cut into the plastic. There was a deep groove.

That was a window into the sergeant -- it was the telling detail.

Connelly has looked for those details ever since.

Here's the story.

From journalism, Connelly learned the craft of writing well and quickly; the discipline to do it every day; and the focus that comes with searching for the single, telling detail.

He also learned journalism's public mission.

Connelly calls his genre "mystery with a message." In mystery, he says, there are writers who are trying to talk about what's happening in our lives today — racism, terrorism, corporate greed. And because mystery writers, like journalists, write fast, their work has a special immediacy.

Six months after Sept. 11, 2001, Connelly had a book out, "City of Bones," that talked about the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, and how they made everything else seem small in comparison.

Last April, his book "Lost Light" hit the stands. The Publishers Weekly blurb says that the book leads Connelly's recurring hero, Harry Bosch, into contact with "the elite terrorist hunters of the new Department of Homeland Security. "This is a thriller that raises questions about the Patriot Act, Connelly says. Mystery with a message.

So Connelly still uses the tools of journalism, and he deals with many of the same subjects. But there are, of course, some significant differences as well.

Now Connelly revels in the journalist's curse: He never lets the facts get in the way of a good story.

"I don't let accuracy get in the way of the velocity and drama of a story," he says. "In a way, I pride myself on being a manipulator of facts."

In 1996, Connelly wrote "The Poet," a mystery with a journalist as protagonist.

"I'd never read a fictional account of a journalist that was accurate to my experience," Connelly says. So he said to himself, "I'm gonna write the first accurate thriller about a journalist ... I accomplished that for about 50 pages."

Here's how it sounds:
Glenn was a good editor who prized a good read more than anything else about a story. That's what I liked about him. In this business editors are of two schools. Some like facts and cram them into a story until it is so overburdened that practically no one will read it to the end. And some like words and never let the facts get in the way. Glenn liked me because I could write and he pretty much let me choose what I wrote about ... If he were gone, I'd probably find myself back on the daily cop beat, writing briefs off the police log. Doing little murders.
But after that, Connelly says, the character becomes a journalist's fantasy. For example:
The rest of the windows shattered and as I completed my roll I opened my eyes enough to get a bead on Gladden. He was squirming on the floor, his eyes wide but not focused and his hands held to his ears. But I could tell he had been too late in recognizing what was happening. I had been able to block at least some of the impact of the concussion grenade. He looked as if he had taken the full brunt of it. I saw the gun lying loose on the floor next to his legs. Without pausing to consider my chances, I quickly crawled to it.
Oh, well. "Being deadly accurate -- in novels -- is deadly boring," Connelly says.

A journalist turned novelist, using the skills learned writing the first draft of history to infuse current concerns and meaning into popular mystery. Could there be anything he misses?

Absolutely. He left journalism a decade ago. He works at home now, all alone, weaving intricate plots, making mysteries with meaning, and more than anything else, Michael Connelly misses the newsroom.

» Read more about Connelly at his official website



TEXTBOOK CASE: Harvard library assistant Desiree Goodwin says she's been passed over 13 times for promotion because she's black - and sexy.
- Mark Garfinkel

October 13, 2003 -- Beautiful Harvard reference assistant Desiree Goodwin is one smart librarian - but her sexy short skirts, tight blouses and dark skin are holding her back professionally, her lawsuit against the stodgy university claims.
The 39-year-old Cornell graduate has two master's degrees and 16 years of experience in her field, but those qualifications haven't helped ignite her career.

Goodwin says she's missed out on more than a dozen promotions in the past nine years because of gender and racial discrimination.

"I've been at Harvard for nine years and not once have I encountered a black professional librarian at any meeting or any gathering anywhere," Goodwin said. "I've heard about them, but I haven't seen one."

In her complaint, Goodwin says she was passed over for 13 promotions that went to white men and women with less experience and fewer qualifications. She also said her female boss identified her "sexy" wardrobe, "low- cut" tops and an alleged bad reputation as reasons for her professional stagnation.

"A man would never be penalized for being too attractive," Goodwin said. "It could only enhance a man's career if he is sexy. Look at Arnold Schwarzenegger. Exaggerated femininity will work against you, but hyper-masculinity will work in your favor."

Goodwin, who still works at the Harvard Design School's Frances Loeb Library, said her boss's claims were bogus.

"White women wore sexy clothes, were outgoing, attractive and they were getting mentored and getting promoted, while I was being ignored and asked to work extra hours," Goodwin said. "I think it is racist because they feel threatened by the success of someone they don't feel is like them."

Goodwin added that most of the people in a position to hire and promote new staff members are white and called their lack of support for her advancement "cultural nepotism."

"They repeatedly select young white men and women to mentor as their protegees," she said.

Goodwin said she was told she'd never get a promotion at the Ivy League institution. She also claims a supervisor told her she'd "have no problem getting a job elsewhere because the first thing employers look for is a qualified black person."

Harvard University said the suit doesn't have legs.

"The case is without merit," Harvard spokesman, Joe Wrinn, said in a statement. "Gender and race were not factors."

Wrinn said the proof is in the pudding: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination both dismissed Goodwin's case.

The university has filed a motion in Boston federal court to dismiss the complaint. Goodwin has until Oct. 31 to respond.

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