Monday, August 31, 2009

The best southern novels of all time

This could be an interesting exercise. Oxford American asked 134 experts which are the best southern novels of all time. The top ten are here, and there are no real surprises. Glad to see Huck Finn surviving censorship and foolish misinterpretation, though.

Later, however, OA propose to list all 500 or so novels which were mentioned by at least one expert. That could be a fascinating list, and I'll be watching out for it coming online.


Donigan said...

I've read all these but #10, the Thurston novel. Learned folk will quibble about the order, but the top group looks fair to me. The surprise is that there are in existence 500 "southern" novels, at least of any consequence.

Having just finished a "southern" novel of my own -- it is called "Island in the Pines" -- which I hope will be out sooner rather than later, considering the vagaries of contemporary publishing, I am curious to see the rest of this list.

Tom Conoboy said...

I haven't read the Walker Percy, although I've read a couple of his and very much like him. This is usually considered his best, isn't it? I've also had Invisible Man on my list for ages, particularly after reading Percival Everett, who is a big fan, but still haven't got round to it. I must read it soon.

Yes, I'm curious about a list of 500. Back when I was a librarian I used to run polls in my libraries for the best books of all time. Lord of the Rings always won with Pride and Prejudice always second, but down in the lower reaches you got the most obscure books with either one or two votes. The OA list is supposedly compiled by 134 experts, but I'm willing to bet there will be some curiosities in there. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

There's also the question of what constitues a southern novel. The Mason-Dixon line? Ohio River? Written by a southerner? In the south? On southern themes? All will be revealed...