or Connect
Styleforum › Forums › General › General Chat › Greatest Living Author?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Greatest Living Author? - Page 2

post #16 of 91
I can't argue with any of the authors listed so far, except for Isabel Allende (who I find kind of lightweight) and John Banville (who I haven't read--but I'll be sure to check him out). If this isn't limited to novelists, I think Pinter and Heaney should get some consideration. I also agree that Rushdie should be on the list of contenders. But if I have to pick one, I go with Philip Roth. He's produced so many great works over such a long period of time. Goodbye Columbus was out in 1959 and Everyman in 2006--both are excellent, and there's so many truly great works in between. And he does everything so well: characters, stories, depth and humor. Plus I think his writing is simply beautiful. Edit: Connemara, what books by Banville would you recommend to start with?
post #17 of 91
Sign me up for Philip Roth as well.

Certainly Pynchon and Barth and that bunch are brilliant and innovative, but I like Roth's ability to discuss incredibly important issues in a tone and style that is never TOO literary or seemingly contrived. McCarthy is great, as well, but there are times when I'm reading his stuff that his language keeps telling you that you are reading a book. I never find that Roth's style impedes the content of what he's trying to do.

I would put Murakami Haruki on that list if he would just quit writing the same two books all the time. If you only read two or three of his books (and they are the right two or three), I could see one finding him brilliant. But, if you read them all, whether in English or in the original, you find that his books start to become repetitive, the narrators all seem similar, and the same sorts of motifs recur throughout. Sometimes, this isn't a bad thing when done correctly, but when I say "same motifs," I mean often EXACTLY the same thing happens in the same way.

I disagree with putting Salinger on any greatest lists. I'm curious to hear other opinions, but I absolutely loved Salinger when I was in High school/college and then, several years later while working and being an "adult" and nearing thirty... I just couldn't get into the characters anymore. They felt really... juvenile and whiny... to me. And, the four books he bothered to publish go all in the same direction but with different characters. For a writer to be "the greatest living author," I think they need to have variety. Pynchon, McCarthy, Roth certainly... but Salinger? One trick pony...
post #18 of 91
A tie between J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown.
post #19 of 91
Since American Psycho has had such a great impact on all of us (SF) I'm amazed no one mentioned Bret Easton Ellis...?

Jon.
post #20 of 91
I'd definitely put McCarthy on the short list.

Probably not of the same calibre, but I've really enjoyed (perhaps "enjoyed" is the wrong word) many of James Ellroy's novels. Tough reads, but satisfying.
post #21 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by odoreater View Post
What makes someone a great author?

I'd say multiple spectacular books that display some range. There can be duds, but they should be outnumbered by the quality work. Critical praise, the respect of peers, awards, and sales (to a lesser extent) I would think are all factors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheIdler View Post
But if I have to pick one, I go with Philip Roth. He's produced so many great works over such a long period of time. Goodbye Columbus was out in 1959 and Everyman in 2006--both are excellent, and there's so many truly great works in between. And he does everything so well: characters, stories, depth and humor. Plus I think his writing is simply beautiful.

I agree completely. He is a machine. New York Magazine this week said that Roth is the Barry Bonds of high-brow literary fiction. At an age when a writers traditionally fall off, he's produced an amazing string of books. I don't think there's a worry of doping, though. Also, for what it's worth (and this could be a rights issue) he's the only living author in the Library of America.
post #22 of 91
I assume we're limiting this to novelists?

My list:

Milan Kundera (far ahead)

Umberto Eco
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Haruki Murakami
post #23 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by gdl203 View Post
I assume we're limiting this to novelists?

My list:

Milan Kundera (far ahead)

Umberto Eco
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Haruki Murakami

Yeah!!!!
post #24 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by rach2jlc View Post
I disagree with putting Salinger on any greatest lists. I'm curious to hear other opinions, but I absolutely loved Salinger when I was in High school/college and then, several years later while working and being an "adult" and nearing thirty... I just couldn't get into the characters anymore. They felt really... juvenile and whiny... to me. And, the three books he bothered to publish go all in the same direction but with different characters. For a writer to be "the greatest living author," I think they need to have variety. Pynchon, McCarthy, Roth certainly... but Salinger? One trick pony...

I'm with you. Salinger just doesn't do it for me, either, for the same reasons.

I will second gdl203's Umberto Eco nomination. I also love Haruki Murakami, but Japanese and English are such different languages that I just don't trust that the Haruki Murakami I read in English is the same Haruki Murakami who's writing in Japanese.
post #25 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saucemaster View Post
I also love Haruki Murakami, but Japanese and English are such different languages that I just don't trust that the Haruki Murakami I read in English is the same Haruki Murakami who's writing in Japanese.

Murakami is one who loves the West and English/American lit in particular, so while you are correct that the translations are definitely not what is in the original, you are safer with Murakami than with some other Japanese authors. Kawabata Yasunari is one that jumps to mind as one who uses Japanese so fluidly and in a very Japanese way that the translations can't really come close.

Nevertheless, that's not to say that editors don't have their way with his texts. Japan doesn't edit its novelists in the way that major publishing houses in America do and so Knopf's editors sometimes take it upon themselves to cut out, alter, or revise sections of his work from the original. Fans of Wind-up Bird Chronicle, for example, might know that there is a large section from the original cut out in the American version because the editors thought it was redundant and would make the book too long.

In general, though, you are right about japanese and English... I think that being a Japanese literature translator would be the hardest job in the world. I once had the dream notion of translating "Kyoko's House," a major novel by Mishima that has never been translated into English, and made it through a few pages before realizing that it would both take the rest of my life and still sound really dull and flat. It's one thing to read it, another to try to bring it alive into another language. Rubin and the two or three other Murakami translators, over all, do a pretty great job.
post #26 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saucemaster View Post
I also love Haruki Murakami, but Japanese and English are such different languages that I just don't trust that the Haruki Murakami I read in English is the same Haruki Murakami who's writing in Japanese.
It depends on the translator. The later translations and editions are better because he reviewed and revised them after a lengthy stay here in the US (he was teaching here). Let's not forget that Murakami is also a translator himself (has translated many of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote and John Irving's books from English to Japanese).


FWIW, my wife has read all his books both in Japanese and English. She prefers the Japanese versions in general but she is quite impressed with some of the translations and thinks it accurately mirrors the atmosphere, humour and style of Murakami's Japanese writing. There's one book where she thought the translator pretty much missed the point but I cannot recall which (maybe the Wind-Up Bird Chronicles?)
post #27 of 91
So we are only talking about novelists then?

Murakami by a long shot. The Road definitely catapulted McCarthy to the top of my short-list. I'd also add Pynchon, and if he gets two more great novels under his belt Chabon will be considered a great.

No mention of Updike?
post #28 of 91
not an author but a writer. Larry David.
post #29 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by rach2jlc View Post

I disagree with putting Salinger on any greatest lists. I'm curious to hear other opinions, but I absolutely loved Salinger when I was in High school/college and then, several years later while working and being an "adult" and nearing thirty... I just couldn't get into the characters anymore. They felt really... juvenile and whiny... to me. And, the three books he bothered to publish go all in the same direction but with different characters. For a writer to be "the greatest living author," I think they need to have variety. Pynchon, McCarthy, Roth certainly... but Salinger? One trick pony...

I think your assessment is correct for the catcher in the rye;it is a coming of age story and as such has the most resonance while the reader is coming of age.

but the stories are much more subtle than you are giving credit for; writing a self indulgent character is different than being self indulgent.

Salinger's later work breaks a lot of structural ground for roth and later post modern writers and has more bearing on modern fiction than Hemingway, who many put in the pantheon of great american writers. and for my money, zooey is one of the best pieces of modern American fiction.

the only anachronism about putting Salinger up for the title of greatest american writer may, in fact, be the living part because he is part of an earlier generation than other living writers and we haven't heard from him in so long.
post #30 of 91
How can you guys include Pynchon on your lists but not Salinger and vice versa? They are, in fact, the same person.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Chat
Styleforum › Forums › General › General Chat › Greatest Living Author?