AJ Logo an ARTSJOURNAL weblog | ArtsJournal Home | AJ Blog Central

« You Have to Wonder If They Are Related | Main | The Last Curse in Pandora's Box »

November 28, 2007

Reading Lists

The National Book Critics Circle queried its members this month about what titles from this year they would recommend, then had a poll to narrow down the list. My enthusiasm for Julian Bourg's From Revolution to Ethics: May 1968 and Contemporary French Thought (McGill-Queens University Press) was bound to be a minority judgment in the best of cases. Anyway, I've been sent a copy of the final list (in descending order of votes per category) and will set it so that this item posts automatically after the embargo lifts.


1) Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead)
2) Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
3) Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policeman's Union (HarperCollins)
4) Philip Roth, Exit Ghost (Houghton Mifflin)
5) Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses (Graywolf)


1) Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I'm Dying (Knopf)
2) Alan Weisman, The World Without Us (St. Martin's)
3) Noami Klein, The Shock Doctrine (Metropolitan)
4) David Michaelis, Schulz and the Peanuts (HarperCollins)
5) Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes (Doubleday)


1) Robert Hass, Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005*
2) Zbigniew Herbert, Collected Poems: 1956-1998 (Ecco)*
3) Robert Pinsky, Gulf Music (Farrar Straus & Giroux)*
4) Rae Armantrout, Next Life (Wesleyan)
5) Mary Jo Bang, Elegy (Graywolf)

*there was a three-way tie for first in poetry.

See also my reviews, in Newsday, of the books by Michaelis and Weiner.

Posted by smclemee at November 28, 2007 12:01 AM


I was glad to see that my own candidate for the best book of the year - The Savage Detectives - didn't make it. Bolano's novel is on the way to becoming a cult object, and sometimes, that is a cool thing - it happened to Gravity's Rainbow and to The Recognitions, too.

Posted by: roger at November 28, 2007 3:14 PM

That's an interesting absence. I started hearing great things about this book about a year before it came out hear, and continued to do so beyond the point when publicity buzz usually starts to die down.

Your recommendation sort of tips the scales, though I still mignt have to wait until it's out in paper. (If anyone knows when that will be, please say so.)

Posted by: Scott McLemee at November 28, 2007 3:25 PM

Denis Johnson is another writer who started out with a cult following. (I was a member of that cult.)

Posted by: Alison Clement at November 29, 2007 12:27 PM