The Prizewinners & Other News

by Patrick on June 15, 2009

The Millions has posted another update to its mathematical analyses of past award-winners.  On Twitter, Millions founder Max Magee asked “Is this a list of the best books of the last 15 years?”  As I’ve said before, this list is as good a gauge of the general critical reception as you’re likely to find.  And it’s a fascinating list for what it reveals about the critical establishment.  While books like Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteredge and Marilynn Robinson’s Home have jumped into prominent positions, it’s still a list dominated by men.  The top 10, in fact, is a full-on sausage fest.  (Yeah, I went there.  Deal with it.)  As for whether they’re the best books, I don’t know.  I haven’t read the first book on the list, Edward P. Jones’s The Known World, but I’m a big fan of the next three: The Corrections, Underworld and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

In other news:

  • Molly Flatt at The Guardian on whether novels can change people’s lives.  I will say that no novel has ever actually changed how I live.  They’ve been aesthetic influences, for sure, and they’ve provided me with entertainment and conversational fodder, but changed my life?  I don’t think so.  This isn’t to diminish their importance.  I’d say the same about movies and music, too.  Feel free to throw rocks at me in the comments.