Best novels of the 2000s – according to US critics

The Guardian is carrying an report on a BBC Culture survey recently among US literary critics on what they considered the top novels of the 21st century so far. I’ve a read a few and haven’t heard of some!

Their top twelve are:

1. Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)
2. Edward P Jones, The Known World (2003)
3. Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (2009)
4. Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (2004)
5. Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (2001)
6. Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000)
7. Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)
8. Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012)
9. Ian McEwan, Atonement (2001)
10. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006)
11. Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000)
12. Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (2002)

My take on those I’ve read:

Wolf Hall was one I really struggled through. It was only my stubborness that kept me going. I liked the gist of the story, in my mind at half or two thirds the length it would have been much better.

Gilead is one many of my friends like Jayber raved about. I enjoyed it, although it didn’t blow me away. I may need to reread it.

A Visit from the Goon Squad – another one I struggled with and really wasn’t impressed by.

Atonement – the first on their list that I agree with – brilliant and poignant.

Half a Yellow Sun – again this is a fantastic book – I’m a fan of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Americanah – one of my best novels/reads of 2014 makes number 13 on the critics list.

What do you make of the critics choices?

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2 thoughts on “Best novels of the 2000s – according to US critics”

  1. Gilead, Atonement, Middlesex and Half of a Yellow Sun are all five star classics for me.

    Oscar Wao, The Corrections, White Teeth and Goon Squad are all novels I quite enjoyed, but I can’t understand the hype about them or how they make it into this kind of list.

    The rest I haven’t read, so based on the above there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll love them. I’ve been trying to decide whether I have the heart to tackle Wolf Hall.

    Currently reading Moby Dick so these will have to wait!

  2. Thanks JM.

    If you’re in Moby Dick I’d get some shorter books in before even thinking about Wolf Hall!

    Yeah I’m with you on the hype around some of those books. Glad I’m not the only one.

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