Thursday, February 10, 2011

Another List just published "The 50 Most Essential Works Of Jewish Fiction Of The Last 100 Years" by Jason Diamond. The list begins with The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, and continues pretty predictably with books by Proust, Philip Roth, Arthur Miller, J.D.Salinger, Bellow, Ozick, Chabon... . Of course the first test when you read such a list: how many have you even heard of? And more important: how many have you read. I have read around half of the 50 books on the list, and heard of most of them, and I think it's pretty good, even the inclusion of Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. And Updike's Bech.

Is it really more than 100 years since Sholem Aleichem and I.L.Peretz published anything good? Maybe so. Am I the only person who doesn't find Henry Roth's Call it Sleep very readable? Maybe so.

Marc Tracy writing at Tablet magazine comments: "What is most interesting to me about [this list], ... Jason places a premium on how essential a work was to literature and culture at large rather than specifically to Jewish culture."

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