Friday, May 19, 2006

BookExpo America: Best American Fiction

Best American Fiction Since 1980

"The Best American Fiction Since 1980: Results and Analysis from the New York Times Book Review Survey."

What is the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years? The survey concluded it is Toni Morrison's Beloved. Is it possible political correctness trumped good literary sense amongst the distinguished voters? Some of the panelists took issue with the winning book. They instead praised Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, and John Updike.

The panelists here are (in the photo left to right) Thomas Mallon, Liesl Schillinger, Sam Tanenhaus, Cynthia Ozick, and Greg Cowles.

Something truly bizarre happened here. I'm not the biggest conference-goer in the world, but I don't remember ever seeing this happen. The presentation was scheduled for 2:30-4pm. At 3:20, Cowles abruptly got up, took his bag, and left the podium without one explanatory word! Earlier, he was asked to give up his mic so Ozick could speak. Maybe he thought he wasn't being called upon enough by the moderator (apparently both of them work for the NYT Book Review). The life of a professional book critic! It must be ugly.

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