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Contemporary Fiction Message Board

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1lucasmurtinho Primer missatge
jul. 29, 2006, 12:30pm

Okay, just so the eventual wanderer doesn't come to this page and finds it empty, I thought of a really obvious - but nonetheless engaging – discussion topic: who’s the world’s best author today? Considering Thomas Pynchon hors concours, I’d go with Ian McEwan, but new names such as David Mitchell and Jonathan Coe also seem appealing. Feel free to mock my choices and trumpet yours, or to ignore the question altogether and talk about something else.

jul. 29, 2006, 4:24pm

It's tempting to simply agree with Jonathan Coe and stop thinking there, but that would be lazy... I'll think about it a bit longer and see who else I can come up with.

Oooh, Anita Shreve and Sue Gee both deserve wider recognition. They're in my personal top ten, at the very least.

jul. 30, 2006, 12:40pm

Pat Barker is one of my favorites, although I haven't ventured beyond the remarkable Regeneration trilogy (Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road). She does a wonderful things with the ambiguous overlaps between psychotherapy, surveillence, government, and anthropology, and also has intriguing answers to the question of why we write (or read) literature.

ag. 22, 2006, 5:34pm

For me it's between David Mitchell, Haruki Murakami, and Jeanette Winterson.

If you asked me a few years ago, I'd have different answers... only because some of the ones I'd have named 5 years ago are no longer active or no longer on top of their game.

set. 1, 2006, 5:03pm

One of my favorite authors at the moment is William Trevor. Is he the best author today? Perhaps not, but he is certainly up there.

I'm afraid many of the authors I like are also rated well by the critics, and hence my selections might seem mundane and conventional: Atwood, Ishiguro, David Guterson, Mistry, McEwan certainly and Toni Morrison and with a special place for Coetzee.

I have to say that this is one question that I am glad it is tough to answer; I know that I have barely scratched the surface of literary fiction, and already I am spoilt for choice. Long live the novel!

set. 1, 2006, 6:45pm

I think for his recent sequence of novels, Philip Roth deserves a mention - it wouldn't be a surprise if he wins the Nobel Prize in the next couple of years.

Umberto Eco is good value for a writer who seems to tackle the world and everything in it.

The best British writer at present is probably McEwan but I have a soft spot for Ballard.

William Trevor is a great writer but it always seems his ability to craft great short stories means his novels sometimes get unjustly overlooked. Fools of Fortune is one of my favourite novels.

gen. 21, 2007, 1:52pm

I recommend Waiting: A Novel by Ha Jin a National Book Award winner set in Maoist China.

I also will throw in Cormac McCarthy, although I have to admit I started and then stopped reading Blood Meridian. The writing is great, but the story in unrelentingly grim. I'm sure I'll go back to it at some point.

ag. 7, 2007, 10:38pm

Chinua Achebe and Naguib Mafouz are two African writers, one representing Northern Africa and the other representing Southern Africa, who would certainly deserve some reference especially because that area of the world is so volatile.

I would have to recommend any foreign international writer who represents and reports the current political and social climate of their country or society as the world's best writer unless you are referring to some other literary, erudite, or learned standard for comparison to include sales, revenue, popularity, etc ...

ag. 10, 2007, 7:10pm

> #8: "Chinua Achebe and Naguib Mafouz are two African writers, one representing Northern Africa and the other representing Southern Africa"

I am afraid I have to disagree with you on the statement above: not on the grounds of the "recommendability" of Achebe and Mahfouz - they are firm favorites of mine and held in high esteem internationally - but the placement of Achebe.

Chinua Achebe is Nigerian, which is in the Northwestern part of Africa - the official designation is Western Africa, and includes all the countries in the bulbous protruding part sticking out to the west on the northern third of Africa.
Southern Africa is defined in this way:
"The region is generally considered to include the countries of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe."

Here's a link to a map:

While Egypt is indeed in Northern Africa, Mahfouz's voice tends to ally himself much more closely with Arabian and Levantine interests than those of Africa.

10gingerh Primer missatge
Editat: oct. 26, 2007, 2:49pm

Are there categories here?

Alice Munro? Best short story writer?

What about non-fiction? Essays? Rebecca Solnit? Joan Didion although Didion is certainly across categories?

I need to mention also Michael Ondaatje . . . .

Editat: gen. 29, 2008, 11:22am

First, I have to agree absolutely with those who've already mentioned Haruki Murakami, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Cormac McCarthy. I feel like Toni Morrison and Jonathan Letham have both had their moments too, but I'm not sure I'd put them in my top ten. I would definately add Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and probably a writer I've recently discovered, Amanda Eyre Ward as a personal favorite as well, whose writing is beautiful (although I admit I've only had time to read her first two novels as of yet).

Beyond them, I'd have to consider Nathan Englander and Annie Proulx too....

gen. 26, 2009, 9:53pm

I would mention Mark Helprin, Jay McInerny and Paul Auster.

ag. 20, 2010, 12:47pm

I agree with BoPeep, Anita Shreve for The last time we met definitely deserves recognition. I'd also like to add Michele Richmond for The Year of Fog. She's one on my top ten!

set. 28, 2010, 9:41am

I have to insist on WG Sebald Austerlitz. Prose without paragraphs yet close to dreaming and profoundly moving.