I hate choosing favorites. Especially when it comes to books…which is why I am just going to list these things alphabetically. I hope you'll ask about some of these choices in the comments section; I also hope that you will pick some of these titles up if you haven't read them. There are some great authors here, but before I reveal the list there is one caveat: my tastes unabashedly lean towards the British writers. Sorry Chuck Palahniuk and Don DeLillo fans (although I do love White Noise and Mao II…I just didn't think DeLillo did anything great in the 2000's). There are a few American authors on here – my favorite being Rick Bass, the best naturalistic writer since Thoreau, and his brilliant collection of short stories The Hermit's Story – but you'll mostly find British authors who either write classically (McEwan, Coetzee and Waters) or sardonically (Barker, Amis, and Rushdie). Because my tastes lean towards the British you could say my tastes are a bit aesthete. I don't mind sounding pretentious here. I get a lot of enjoyment out of postmodern takes on classical tropes likes a WWII story (Atonement), the detective novel (The Light of Day), or just a good old fashion love story (The Powerbook).
If I had a gun to my head I guess I could name a favorite amongst these twenty selections…that would have to be Ian McEwan's Saturday…probably the finest novel about September 11th to be written. It was also interesting to see Martin Amis go to a more classical style of storytelling with House of Meetings after his failed attempts at a September 11th novel, Yellow Dog. Meetings is like Dostoevsky lite…which is a compliment. It's a tightly packed novel with a lot of wonderful Amisisms in it. Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown is brilliant novel, too. Rushdie floods his story with usual pop culture allusions and at the end succeeds at flipping the end of The Silence of the Lambs and making the male the hunted. It's his most impressive and his most garish novel since Midnight's Children. Finally I want to give a shout-out to Nicola Barker's fascinatingly absurd novel Darkmans. It's audacious (800+ pages) and sardonic (it reminded me of Will Self and Martin Amis), and it's not all together a success; however, it's ambition gets you through the rough patches, and by the end of the novel – a hilariously dark and irreverent flip on Bergman's moment of Death playing chess (for Barker Death is more of a jokester, and instead of chess he flips a coin) – I found myself to have laughed more than I did groan throughout the novel. It's really one of the standout works of the last ten years.
Onto the list…