Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The (London) Times: 100 best books of the decade

A panel at the Times (of London) came up with a list of the 100 best books of the decade.

A few of my favorites:
9 Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001)

A foolish act of bravado and a simple act of conceit at a 1930s house party combine to spoil three lives. Can amends be made? You either love or hate the postmodern twist at the end, but you cannot deny the brilliance of the descriptive set-pieces.

11 War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, in a new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (2007)

The greatest novel in the world is given new life by the remarkable translating team who have already blown the dust off Dostoevsky; if there is one essential desert island book, this is it — the literary equivalent of digital remastering.

21 The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (2004)

A peculiar, chilling fantasy. In an alternative America, the Aryan supremacist and aviator Charles Lindbergh becomes President in 1940 and persecution of the Jews begins — as narrated by an alternative Philip Roth.

24 Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)

Hailsham appears to be a typical English boarding school, but the students are taught nothing about the outside world. Kathy, a former student, discovers that they are all clones, specially bred to provide spare organs.

60 Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (2005)

In the decade of 9/11, the credit crunch and environmental anxieties, we all began to worry about our futures. This is the book that explained most learnedly why previous societies had come unstuck.

74 War Music by Christopher Logue (2001)

An action-packed poetic adaptation, War Music brings the bravura imagery and fast-paced drama of the cinema to Homer’s great classic. As The Iliad is brought to idiomatic modern life, Logue encourages readers to reconnect with their deepest literary heritage.

81 The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud (2006)

A sharp, elegant, sophisticated portrait of three smart New Yorkers about to hit 30, just before 9/11. Danielle is a TV producer, Julius is a freelance critic and poor “Bootie” has hopelessly dropped out. A meditation on modern morality.
Read about all 100 books on the list.

Also see: One hundred books that defined the noughties.

--Marshal Zeringue