Saturday, June 05, 2010

20 Under 40 or 10 over 80?

The New York Times has recently released its "20 under 40" list of hot young writers. I looked at the list, and I like many of the authors they've chosen. However, the whole idea of a list like this bothers me; it feels like once again celebrating youth, new things, and the idea of celebrity rather than years of hard work and the evidence of an oeuvre of excellent novels created by career authors.

In response, Ward Six has created a list of "10 over 80". On that list there are many excellent authors who I can certainly see as writers to celebrate. (hurrah for Beverly Cleary & Ralph S. Mouse!) It made me think, you could really create any kind of list of this type, couldn't you? 20 over 50, 10 under 100, really endless possibilities here, not even getting into gender or ethnicity -- that could cause an exponential growth in your pool of choices!

Anyhow, I enjoyed the "10 over 80" list but it missed out some of my own faves, so I'm going to share my own list (with a variation to suit me) -- so here is my own list of favourites...

15 Over 75

1. Penelope Lively (b. March 17, 1933)
English author of 16 novels for adults, numerous nonfiction, short stories and children's books. I love her work!

2. José Saramago (b. Nov. 16, 1922)
Portuguese genius who has written 28 books (at least half translated into English) plus he's kept a blog recently.
3. Alice Munro (b. July 10, 1931)
Canadian master of the short story. Necessary reading for all.

4. Ray Bradbury (b. Aug 22, 1920)
American short story, science fiction, Fahrenheit 451 -- how can you not love him? He is my superhero of writing.

5. Barbara Mertz/Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels (b. Sept. 29, 1927)
American writer who has tons of fabulous non-fiction, mysteries, and romantic suspense.

6. Virgil Burnett (b. 1928)
A personal friend who is best known as an artist, sculptor and illustrator. He has written short story collections and novels (including my favourite, Towers at the Edge of a World.) He's also penned a memoir. (American born but Canadian by residence.)

7. Maya Angelou (b. April 4, 1928)
American poet, author of inspirational work and children's books -- amazing woman.

8. Mavis Gallant (b. Aug. 11, 1922)
Canadian novelist and short story writer who has lived in France for many, many years. She is such a strong writer and a strong woman.

9. Edna O'Brien (b. Dec. 15, 1930)
Irish writer of novels, plays, and biographies. Still going strong with her latest, a biography of Lord Byron.

10. Gabriel Garcia Marquez (b. March 6, 1927)
Colombian author and master of magic realism. I loved One Hundred Years of Solitude.
11. Joan Clark (b. Oct. 12, 1934)
Canadian writer from Atlantic Canada. Has written children's books and a few adult novels as well. I loved her adult novel Latitudes of Melt.

12. Don Coles (b. Apr. 12, 1928)
Fabulous Canadian poet who has at least 10 collections, he wrote one novel called Dr. Bloom's Story which I loved!

13. Antonine Maillet (b. May 10, 1929)
Acadian (French Canadian from Atlantic Canada) writer of plays, novels and academic writing. Very unique reading!

14. Josef Skvorecky (b. Sept. 27, 1924)
Czech writer who has lived most of his life in Canada, he's written novels and mysteries, most of which are available in English.

15. Thomas Keneally (b. Oct. 7, 1935)
Australian author of many, many novels; best known for Schindler's Ark but I read and really enjoyed Victim of the Aurora.


  1. Excellent list! I see a bunch of my favorites. I will check out the others.

  2. Delighted to see Antonine Maillet on your list. She's one of my favourites. DON L'ORIGINAL was my introduction. (I love it so much I look for copies in every second hand shop I go into, to give as gifts.)

    Just recently saw La Sangouine at the Berkeley Street Theatre in Toronto (with Viola Leger, who originally played the part forty years ago).


  3. I agree completely that any list like this recent one from TNY is best enjoyed in the company of other lists; I love the one you've compiled here (with Lively and Gallant being particular favourites of mine). Booklists that respond to other booklists are amongst my favourite things!

    But, having said that, I do particularly appreciate a list which does focus on younger writers because I don't necessarily stumble on them myself. So although I recognize all the writers on your list, ten of the names on the NY list are completely new to me; I'm looking forward to exploring and I'm sure I'll find some new favourites there too.

  4. great list! Edna O'Brien is a favorite of mine - I recently heard an interview with her on a BBC podcast and she was fascinating!

  5. pussreboots - I'm glad you see some favourites, too. There are so very many to choose from ;)

    Carin - I would have loved to see La Sagouine! I read that one last spring and enjoyed it greatly.

    Buried in Print - Lively is one of my current author crushes so I just had to do a list with her in it! You make a really good point about the NYT list though - it does highlight new authors and facilitate discovery of unknown writers who have the potential to become a new favourite.

    Booksync - Edna O'Brien is fabulous, lucky you to have heard her on the BBC.

  6. I love Elizabeth Peters and I can't believe there's a NEW Amelia Peabody book. I would add P.D. James to your list. And think of P.G. Wodehouse, writing almost until he died at age 93!


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