Beloved Beloved By NYT Book Review Author Survey

beloved_cover.jpgJust in:

“BELOVED” BY TONI MORRISON WINS TOP SPOT
IN NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW SURVEY OF
BEST FICTION PUBLISHED IN U.S. SINCE 1980

NEW YORK, May 11, 2006 — A New York Times Book Review survey of 124 prominent authors, critics and editors has selected Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” as the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years. The novel, published in 1987 by Alfred A. Knopf, won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. An excerpt from “Beloved,” read by Ms. Morrison, will be available on the Web at NYTimes.com/books.

We were going to say that they missed an opportunity by not selecting A Million Little Pieces as the best American fiction of the last 25 years, but that might’ve made Oprah mad again.

UPDATE: GalleyCat goes all Oprah on the NYTBR and its list. Twice.

The full release, including the other top choices:


“BELOVED” BY TONI MORRISON WINS TOP SPOT
IN NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW SURVEY OF
BEST FICTION PUBLISHED IN U.S. SINCE 1980

NEW YORK, May 11, 2006 — A New York Times Book Review survey of 124 prominent authors, critics and editors has selected Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” as the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years. The novel, published in 1987 by Alfred A. Knopf, won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. An excerpt from “Beloved,” read by Ms. Morrison, will be available on the Web at NYTimes.com/books.

Respondents include Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, National Book Award winners and Booker Prize winners, as well as many best-selling authors. Among the participants were: Julian Barnes, Michael Chabon, Louise Erdrich, Jonathan Safran Foer, Carlos Fuentes, Nadine Gordimer, John Irving, William Kennedy, Stephen King, Jonathan Lethem, Peter Matthiessen, Ian McEwan, Lorrie Moore, Cynthia Ozick, Ann Patchett, Marilynne Robinson, William Styron, Anne Tyler, William T. Vollmann and Tom Wolfe.

Each was asked to submit one title representing his or her choice for the best single work of American fiction published since 1980. No other guidance was provided, and jurors were not given a list of books to choose from. While “Beloved” received the most votes of any single work of fiction, Philip Roth amassed the most overall votes. Six of his novels were among the 22 books that received multiple votes. In addition, Roth’s “American Pastoral” finished in the top five. Two other authors with books in the top five — Don DeLillo (“Underworld”) and Cormac McCarthy (“Blood Meridian”) — also received multiple votes for more than one book: DeLillo with three and McCarthy with two.

The results of the survey, and a list of all 22 novels and short story collections that received multiple votes, will be published in the Book Review’s special all-fiction issue on May 21 and listed on NYTimes.com/books.

The top choices included:

  • “Underworld” by Don DeLillo (Scribner, 1998)
  • “Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West” by Cormac McCarthy (Random House, 1985)
  • “Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels: Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, Rabbit at Rest” by John Updike (Everyman’s Library, 1995)
  • American Pastoral” by Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997)

    “We’re delighted that so many distinguished authors accepted this impossible assignment in the spirit in which it was conceived — as a way of celebrating the past 25 years of American fiction,” said Sam Tanenhaus, editor of The New York Times Book Review. The survey was inspired by a similar poll conducted by the New York Herald Tribune’s Book Week in 1965, which chose “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison.

    A discussion of the results will be held at Book Expo America on May 18, in Washington, D.C. Mr. Tanenhaus will moderate a panel consisting of jurors Thomas Mallon, Cynthia Ozick and Liesl Schillinger; and Greg Cowles, an editor from the Book Review.

    The Book Review’s special fiction issue will publish the names of the jurors and list all the books that received multiple votes, along with an essay by Times film critic A. O. Scott, who explains how the survey was conducted and interprets the results. Mr.Tanenhaus’s weekly, online podcast will discuss the survey, and NYTimes.com/books will host a weeklong panel discussion about the survey with jurors Michael Cunningham, Stephen Metcalf and Jane Smiley. The Times’s Web site also links to the original reviews from The New York Times Book Review.