Well, At Least There Was Good Stuff to Read: The Books of the Decade

12/29/2009 1:00 PM |

Books of the Decade:


The Human Stain, by Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin)
White Teeth, by Zadie Smith (Random House)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon (Random House)
The Feast of Love, by Charles Baxter (Pantheon)
Mrs. Hollingsworth’s Men, by Padgett Powell (Houghton Mifflin)
The Name of the World, by Denis Johnson (HarperCollins)
The Night Listener, by Armistead Maupin (HarperCollins)
Pastoralia: Stories, by George Saunders (Riverhead)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers (Vintage)

You Might Have Missed:
The Verificationist, by Donald Antrim (Knopf)
Off Keck Road, by Mona Simpson (Knopf)


Austerlitz, by W. G. Sebald (Random House)
The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen (FSG)
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, by Alice Munro (Knopf)
Among the Missing, by Dan Chaon (Ballantine)
Demonology: Stories, by Rick Moody (Little, Brown)
Empire Falls, by Richard Russo (Knopf)
My Name is Red, by Orhan Pamuk (Knopf)
Perfect Recall: New Stories, by Ann Beattie (Scribner)
Sputnik Sweetheart, by Haruki Murakami (Knopf)
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett (HarperCollins)

You May Have Missed:
Niagra Falls All over Again, by Elizabeth McCracken (Dial)


Everything is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer (HarperCollins)
Atonement, by Ian McEwan (Doubleday)
Female Trouble: A Collection of Short Stories, by Antonya Nelson (Scribner)
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides (FSG)
July, July, by Tim O’Brien (Houghton Mifflin)
The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt (Knopf)
Seek My Face, by John Updike (Knopf)

You May Have Missed:
In The Forest, by Edna O’Brien (Houghton Mifflin)
Yonder Stands Your Orphan, by Barry Hannah (Grove)


The Known World, by Edward P. Jones (Amistad/HarperCollins)
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, by ZZ Packer (Riverhead)
A Box of Matches, by Nicholson Baker (Random House)
Cosmopolis, by Don DeLillo (Scribner)
A Distant Shore, by Caryl Phillips (Knopf)
The Effect of Living Backwards, by Heidi Julavits (Putnam)
Liars and Saints, by Maile Meloy (Scribner)
Loot: And Other Stories, by Nadine Gordimer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Love, by Toni Morrison (Knopf)
Old School, by Tobias Wolff (Knopf)
Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)

You May Have Missed:
Set This House in Order: A Romance of Souls, by Matt Ruff (HarperCollins)
How to Breathe Underwater: Stories, by Julie Orringer (Vintage)
Bay of Souls, by Robert Stone (Houghton Mifflin)


Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson (FSG)
War Trash, by Ha Jin (Pantheon)
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell (Random House)
I Am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe (FSG)
Little Children, by Tom Perrotta (St. Martin’s)
Snow, by Orham Pamuk (Knopf)
Wake Up, Sir!, by Jonathan Ames (Scribner)
Home Land, by Sam Lipsyte (Picador)

You May Have Missed:
Red Ant House, by Ann Cummins (Mariner)

16 Comment

  • Dan Brown does, in fact, suck. Jonathan Franzen, Philip Roth, and Wells Tower, not so much. In fact, not at all.

    Well done.

  • Great list. Glad to see some books that went under the radar here “All about Lulu” by Evison, & “Mighty Angel” by Pilch. I read and enjoyed so many books on this list that I think I might go back and try a couple that I skipped originally.

    I think that 50 years from now Pynchon will be remembered for first of all ‘Inherent Vice’, so I would have included it.

    Also, I do think that ‘No Country for Old Men’ was better than the “Road” which is missing, but in my mind they were published like a 1-2 punch and read like they are two halves of a single book.

    Lastly, you have several acknowledged masters here who are dabbling in genres. Could not a genre writer like Dennis Lehane and his ‘Mystic River’ be considered for this list?

  • Thanks for the fun and interesting list — always good to discover those writers I do not know. Eisenberg rocks and I’m glad to see her story collection in your line-up. Quick question: isn’t Egger’s book a memoir?

  • Thanks for the fun and interesting list — always good to discover those writers I do not know. Eisenberg is a master and I’m glad to see her story collection in your line-up. Quick question: isn’t Egger’s book a memoir?

  • Would have liked to have seen something from Haruki Murakami – perhaps Kafka On the Shore – though I prefer Windup Bird Chronicle. Dan Brown is ok, for fluff – honestly, I thought Angels & Demons was a good read – just don’t see the movies…

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  • Why do you always ignore the great novels written and published in Africa?
    So any book not on the New York Times Bestsellers List is not a great book?
    Western narrow mindedness is sheer intellectual ignorance.

  • Wow cannot believe I haven’t read any of these books.I know I have some pretty obscure taste in books but there has to be something in these books that makes them so widely read.I’ve actually always meant to read white teeth,must get around to it,nice to have a list to work through though.

  • Mjust found this article @ http://www.kizlarsoruyor.com surprised as kafka on the shore is my favorite book

  • Thanks for this list

  • Some of these are great books. Thanks for sharing!

  • Here’s some to add to “You Might Have Missed”, for the entire decade:

    Books by Canadian and Australian authors (aside from the obligatory nod to authors like Atwood and Munro). American-centered lists like this should simply call it what it is: American books of the decade, with a few British and books-in-translation thrown in to make the list look international. I mean, Lunar Park, by Bret Easton Ellis? Against the Day, by Thomas Pynchon? A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore? Are these names here because, well, they’re authors who’ve had successes and therefor get put in because they’re recognizable names?

    There’s nothing wrong with lists, but please call a spade a spade.

  • a great list, even stumbling across the article several years later it still gives some great choices of books to read. I’ll check you’re blog for further updates!!
    Many thanks, Dave R – http://www.jdandj.com

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  • Thanks for sharing such a source of information and knowledge. The information does not grow old so these books will be read by generations and geneartions