Looking for something to read? The Times of London puts together a list of “100 21st-century novels to love” which, while it includes a lot of terrific reading, also sports some fairly significant holes. For 2019, they go out of their way not to be inclusive by, in the words of the Times’ literary editor Andrew Holgate, casting “the net as wide as possible, we have limited ourselves to one book per writer, and we haven’t included crime fiction or thrillers.” That strategy might have made sense in the era of Updike and Bellow that Holgate derides in his opening to the piece. In the present day, though, when the distance between what is crime and what is “literary” has narrowed so remarkably, the deliberate omission seems disingenuous, at best.
All of that said, there’s a lot here to love. A lot, also, that January Magazine has either reviewed or spent time with the author. And it’s fun, also, to ripple through the piece and be reminded of wonderful reads from (recent) years gone by.
Highlights for me included The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon; The Road by Cormac McCarthy (“The sequel to every disaster movie and a concerned ode to the planet, as ‘man’ and ‘boy’ journey in a post-apocalyptic hell,” writes The Times. Oh-Kay.); The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen; Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell; We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver; Life of Pi by Yann Martel; NW by Zadie Smith; All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland; Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro; The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis; The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon and so many others.
But scan the list. Again, there are 100 titles here. You’ll have special memories of some of these, as well.