This this has been going around like a bad summer cold - everyone has had it: BooksPlease, Books and Bicycles, My Porch... It’s from the Sunday Times - The 50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945. Since I consider myself a strong appreciator of British lit, let's see how many I have read. Red numbers indicate that I have, black that I haven't.
1. Philip Larkin - This is not starting off well. No, he is a hole in my poetry reading
2. George Orwell - Animal Farm and 1984
3. William Golding - Lord of the Flies
4. Ted Hughes - Oh yes. His translation of The Orestia is my favorite by far
5. Doris Lessing - The Golden Notebook, The Grass is Singing, the Canopus in Argus series
6. J. R. R. Tolkien – I have not been able to get through a single book of his and I have tried
7. V. S. Naipaul - no.
8. Muriel Spark - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
9. Kingsley Amis - not a thing
10. Angela Carter - no.
11. C. S. Lewis - the Narnia books, The Space Trilogy, Till We Have Faces
12. Iris Murdoch - Nearly everything. She is smashing
13. Salman Rushdie - He is another one I have tried and not succeeded with
14. Ian Fleming - No, but I have seen the movies
15. Jan Morris - No.
16. Roald Dahl - Yes.
17. Anthony Burgess - No.
18. Mervyn Peake - I haven't read Gormenghast, but I saw the miniseries
19. Martin Amis - I have tried and find him obnoxious.
20. Anthony Powell - I consider A Dance to the Music of Time one of those projects I have to get to
21. Alan Sillitoe - No.
22. John Le Carré - several
23. Penelope Fitzgerald - The Bookshop, The Blue Flower, The Beginning of Spring, The Gate of Angels
24. Philippa Pearce - never heard of her
25. Barbara Pym - no
26. Beryl Bainbridge - No, but I'd like to
27. J. G. Ballard - No
28. Alan Garner - The Owl Service.
29. Alasdair Gray - No
30. John Fowles - The Magus
31. Derek Walcott - I saw his adaptation of The Odyssey on stage and have read Omeros
32.Kazuo Ishiguro - Never Let Me Go, Remains of the Day, When We Were Orphans
33. Anita Brookner - Yes, The Debut, A Closed Eye
34. A. S. Byatt - The Children’s Book, The Game, Posession, Babel Tower
35. Ian McEwan - Saturday, Atonement, The Child in Time, Black Dogs, Enduring Love, Amsterdam
36. Geoffrey Hill - No
37. Hanif Kureishi - The Buddha of Suburbia, Gabriel's Gift, and I have seen his films of My Beautiful Landrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid
38. Iain Banks - The Business is sitting on the shelf
39. George Mackay Brown - never have
40. A. J. P. Taylor - No.
41. Isaiah Berlin - One essay, I don't remember the title
42. J. K. Rowling - Read em all
43. Philip Pullman - Excellent
44. Julian Barnes - No
45. Colin Thubron - Among The Russians
46. Bruce Chatwin - The Songlines
47. Alice Oswald - No
48. Benjamin Zephaniah - Never have, he's quite prolific, isn't he
49. Rosemary Sutcliff - No
50. Michael Moorcock - wow, what an output, but no
That's 23 out of 50. Not bad, but I clearly have some work to do. And I just wouldn't be playing the list game without bitching at the end about who I think is missing. Evelyn Waugh, Aldous Huxley, John Betejman, D.M. Thomas, Daphne DuMaurier, P.D. James, Elizabeth Bowen, Harold Pinter, Howard Barker, Olivia Manning, Hilary Mantel, Sarah Salway, Margaret Drabble, Charles Lambert, Allan Hollinghurst, Caryl Churchill, J. B. Priestley, and Zadie Smith could easily have replaced J.K. Rowling on my list, but having just 50 spaces makes the job difficult and it is evident that The Sunday Times wanted to be inclusive of a variety of writing and perspectives. How did you do?
Embarassingly, I've read only five on this list. I am apparently one of a handful of human beings who have not yet read J.K. Rowling. Missing from this list are some of my favorites: Penelope Lively (Moon Tiger), Jane Gardem (Old Filth), Evelyn Waugh, Barbara Trapido (Brother of the More Famous Jack.)I think you would enjoy Old Filth very much if you haven't tried yet.
Hi Barbara - I haven't read Old Filth, but I have Gardam's The Flight of the Maidens on my TBR pile. I must confess, I had not been familiar with Barbara Trapido. I just checked out Brother Of the More Famous Jack and it looks great. Another addition to the ever-growing list of must reads!
Ted, I learned of Barbara Trapido from the Wall St. Journal book columnist, Cynthia Crossen. She did a column on underappreciated authors. Another reviewer's comment on the book was "More Books, Trapido, Rapido!" How could I resist?
B - Thanks for that recommendation. I'm glad she is now on my radar.
Almost half of the names -- not bad at all! I like your list of the people excluded; there are some very important writers there.
Read most of them, but I am a librarian. I agree with many of your recommendations. Also, Kate Atkinson and Joan Aiken should be on this list. Perhaps Graham Green was too old to make the cut?
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