Sunday, June 17, 2012

The modern library

In this book Callil and Colm Toibin have collated a list of what they consider to be the 200 best novels in English since 1950. The book is divided into a number of section. A list of titles in order of publication from 1950 to 2000 is followed by the list of books by author together with a summary of the plot of the book (or in a few cases, series of books) and reasons why the book was chosen. In the footer at the bottom of each page brief biographical details of the author are provided and mention is made of other works by the author that may interest the reader.

At the end of the book additional reading lists are provided: 20 of the best autobiographies & memoirs written since 1950; 20 of the best literary biographies written since 1950; 20 of the best collections of poetry written since 1950; autobiographies and memoirs by novelists chosen in the book;  literary biographies of novelists chosen in the book and lists of literary prize winners up to 2010 - Booker Prize, CNA Award, Commonwealth Prize, Governor General's Literary Award, Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year, Miles Franklin Award, Montana New Zealand Book Award, National Book Award, Nobel Prize in Literature, Prix Femina Etranger, Prix Medicis Etranger, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Stakis Prize for Scottish Writer of the Year, Whitbread Novel of the Year and Whitbread First Novel Award.

The compilers present an interesting selection of books with the primary criteria being books written in English that people want to read. Authors from a wide range of countries are represented including England, Ireland, Scotland, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Africa, India, Pakistan, the Caribbean and Hong Kong.

As well as being an overview of fiction written in the second half of the twentieth century the book is a great way to create a list of what to read next.

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