I too can vouch for Scott and state with absolute certianty that he cooked up this idea well before Tanenhaus did. He was kind enough to ask me to offer my ten and, since Max has shared his, here’s a list of the ten I submitted. Of course, being a moron, I somehow misconstrued Scott’s request and thought that he was asking me for the best books written between 1990 and 2000. (Had I known it extended to the present day, I would have definitely selected Ian McEwan’s Atonement, one of the finest novels of the past twenty years, or a David Markson book.) So my list was a tad off and typed at a feverish clip with the first ten titles that popped into my head. If I had to do it again, it would likely be different. But here are my picks in alphabetical order:
Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
Don DeLillo, Underworld
William Gaddis, A Frolic of His Own
Richard Powers, The Gold Bug Variations
Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries
Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
William T. Vollmann, The Royal Family
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan
Colson Whitehead, John Henry Days
[UPDATE: Scott has a nice list of links to other people’s lists.]
I take full credit for convincing you to read John Henry Days!
I was surprised that Atwood did so well. She’s someone I’ve never read, and I guess I’ve always consigned her books to some mental ghetto. Obviously I’m going to have to change that.
Also interesting that you were the only one to give a vote to Cryptonomicon. I think you’re right in saying this book is a good representative of the ’90s, but no one else nominated it.
thanks for the nice list. i’m inspired to read ‘john henry days’. i found ‘the intuitionist’ one day at moon news (a great little bookstore on main st, half moon bay) and liked it very much but hadn’t come across this one yet.