Thursday, May 11, 2006

"Beloved" Chosen as Best American Fiction

I was really surprised and pleased to read today that 100 writers and critics chose Toni Morrison's Beloved as the best work of American fiction published in 25 years. Really, they did. Read about it in the NYTimes. Here's the list of judges.

There is also an essay by A. O. Scott about the process and it includes this tidbit about the previous effort by the NYTimes to choose a best work of fiction:

The last time this kind of survey was conducted, in 1965 (under the
auspices of Book Week, the literary supplement of the soon-to-be-defunct New
York Herald Tribune), the winner was Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man," which was declared "the most memorable" work of American fiction published since the end of World War II, and the most likely to endure.

I thought that was pretty amazing, but then again, not too surprising. Race and class are there at the beginning of the idea of America as a nation, so novels that grapple with both and the many issues spawned by color and class have the potential to be our great works.

One Love, in Memoriam
Today is the 25th anniversary of Bob Marley's death. I read a story earlier this week on the ABC news site about the upcoming anniversary. I thought it was really odd that "top-selling Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu" was such a big part of the story. Not necessarily bad, it just seemed like he was more of a focal point than necessary. I would have liked to have heard more thoughts from across the musical spectrum.

I really liked NPR's tribute story, which included an interview with Christopher John Farley, who has a new book, Before the Legend:The Rise of Bob Marley, that's a history of Marley before reggae and Rastafari. There's an excerpt from the book at the NPR site.

One thing I learned from the story is that there are multiple versions of "One Love." There are audio clips on NPR's site as well as a photo gallery.