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~生まれた町で夢見てきた...~
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Like calling The Da Vinci Code the "Greatest Contemporary American Book" 
8th-Jun-2006 09:02 pm
bookpile03
While Americans and The New York Times are busy worrying about whether or not Nobel Prize winner and staple of college lit classes Toni Morrison ACTUALLY wrote the best American novel in the past 25 years or whether such authors as Philip Roth or John Updike and their white male sexual angst better represent all the United States has to offer, in the UK, readers polled by The Book Magazine have decided:

Rowling tops book magazine poll
Harry Potter author JK Rowling has been named the greatest living British writer in a magazine poll.

BBC News
June 8, 2006

Rowling topped the poll for The Book Magazine, receiving nearly three times as many votes as second-place author, fantasy writer Terry Pratchett.

The pair were followed by previous Booker Prize winners Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie and Kazuo Ishiguro.

Zadie Smith, who won the Orange Prize for her novel On Beauty on Tuesday, came in at number 33.

"Our survey provides a fascinating insight into what the British public thinks makes a 'great' writer," said Christine Kidney, editor of the trade paper.

"It shows how a writer can connect with us, as if we were the only reader in the world, and it's why books prove to be such enduringly popular objects."

Other writers who made it into the top twenty include Nick Hornby, Jonathan Coe, Philip Pullman and Muriel Spark.

Rowling is currently writing the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series.

END
*bwa ha ha ha* If I were a Brit, I would be embarrassed right about now. The semi-literate and torpid can't even bother to use the excuse that Rowling was the only British author that they could name offhand--the contest website GIVES you a list of potentials to choose from! (Of course, that doesn't eliminate the possibility that hers was the only name a lot of these people RECOGNIZED. Or had read. Which speaks to something altogether different.)

I guess the results mean that, as far as people in the UK are concerned, "GREAT" means "(s)he who sells the most books." *sighs* By the same definition, someone like Dan Brown or Mary Higgins Clark would be the Greatest Living American Writer. The horror...

(And by the way, being a bestselling author does not mean that you will be remembered a hundred years from now. Ever heard of Mary Jane Holmes or E.D.E.N. Southworth? Yeah. Exactly.)
Comments 
9th-Jun-2006 01:53 am (UTC)
i think i'd have to vote either Nick Hornby or Ian McEwan. and i *love* the HP books...
9th-Jun-2006 02:09 am (UTC)
I haven't read enough of the writers listed on the poll site to feel like I could make a good judgment, honestly...but I do know that, by how I define "greatest," JK Rowling ain't it.
9th-Jun-2006 02:09 am (UTC)
Well said. It's worth remembering that this is a magazine poll though and that sales probably govern most of these things, just as they would on say, mTV. I recently saw a "100 best books of the past 50 years" list or some such thing, compiled by "a democratic selection of internet users" and the results were a bit depressing, too.

But oi, I like Phillip Wroth. What's his heterosexual caucasianness got to do with his quality as a writer? He is indeed angsty, and I've only read two of his books, but I enjoyed them enough that I'll probably pick up more someday.
9th-Jun-2006 02:20 am (UTC)
The lowest common denominator thing. Yeah, I know. >_< Like I said, if I were British, I'd be embarrassed for my countrymen.

It's funny, though, when you read the magazine's introduction to the poll. They had such high aspirations for what the poll would reveal and who would be a contender.

I recently saw a "100 best books of the past 50 years" list or some such thing, compiled by "a democratic selection of internet users" and the results were a bit depressing, too.

Hey, do you remember where you saw that? It would be hilarious to compare to the Modern Library's list. :P

But oi, I like Phillip Wroth. What's his heterosexual caucasianness got to do with his quality as a writer?

Nothing. I'm only taking a insider's joke jab at the NY Times survey, which resulted in a shortlist of one black woman and four white men.
9th-Jun-2006 02:21 am (UTC)
now, i'm curious. do you think it's because of sex/race they were picked, or talent?
10th-Jun-2006 06:56 am (UTC)
Like I said, if I were British, I'd be embarrassed for my countrymen.

No matter what country you did a survey like that in you'd get the same results - authors of blockbuster best-sellers coming out on top. In the US it would probably be Dan Brown in the Number 1 slot.
9th-Jun-2006 02:10 am (UTC)
I think the results would be similar if the survey were taken in any country. It's a simple matter of statistics that the best-selling authors will come out on top when chosen via a majority vote. People are going to choose an author that they've actually read, so that limits their choices down to 2 to 4 authors of those available for selection for most people, with one of those authors being J.K. Rowling in almost every case.

Also, since she's writing a series, many have likely read more books by her than by other authors, making them more comfortable with choosing her. Notice that Terry Pratchett came in second.

John Updike is putrid. I nearly got through one of his books before I had to stop because I couldn't stomach watching the supposedly intelligent but actually idiotic, weak-willed protagonist drool over his 18 year old neice. I kept waiting for the turning-point when the character would realize how pathetic and disgusting he was, but stopped reading when I knew that moment wasn't coming.
9th-Jun-2006 02:15 am (UTC)
I think the results would be similar if the survey were taken in any country.

*laughs* If the same poll had been done in the US, OF COURSE JK Rowling would've won--she's the ONLY living British writer that most Americans can name!

A general "Greatest Living Writer" might've turned up some contenders besides Rowling, though.

Notice that Terry Pratchett came in second.

Aren't his sales through the roof in the UK as well, though?

John Updike is putrid.

I'm thinking I should read the Rabbit tetralogy. Just to, you know, see.
9th-Jun-2006 02:23 am (UTC)
John Updike is putrid. I nearly got through one of his books before I had to stop because I couldn't stomach watching the supposedly intelligent but actually idiotic, weak-willed protagonist drool over his 18 year old neice. I kept waiting for the turning-point when the character would realize how pathetic and disgusting he was, but stopped reading when I knew that moment wasn't coming.

really? what did you read? i like him.
9th-Jun-2006 06:43 am (UTC)
I don't think a poll in a magazine means anything at all. And Terry Pratchett has fans whose fanaticism is rather scary. He's a bit like a cult. And Rowling probably had hordes of kids voting for her. People who like more adult authors probably don't waste their time voting in such polls.
9th-Jun-2006 11:50 am (UTC)
Well, the website looks like the magazine takes itself really seriously. Literary pretensions and all. So, their audience wouldn't necessarily be hordes of kids who've read Harry Potter and nothing else. I wonder who would've heard about the poll in time to vote...?
9th-Jun-2006 11:38 am (UTC)
I'd bet the best living British writer is someone no one's heard of, or who's only sold a few books ^^ This just amounts to a marketing survey, the best author being the one who sold the most books, and consequently the name that people recognized the most...
9th-Jun-2006 11:56 am (UTC)
Err, how do you define "best"? No, seriously. It ain't hard to be a literary fiction or poetry writer and sell less than JK Rowling, that's for sure. I'm certain that a bunch of literati could get together and make a pretty authoritative shortlist, and it would consist of familiar names (well, familiar to me, at least ^^; )...
9th-Jun-2006 01:52 pm (UTC)
I think if you asked readers of the Times or London Review of Books or the Guardian or ANY of a host of publications similar to the NYT you'd get a rather diferent result. Literary snobs here are just as scathing about JK Rowling as elsewhere. I agree her prose is nothing startling but she can tell a story that engages minds young & old. Enid Blyton, her equivalent when I was young, was aslo dismissed and even banned from libraries & schools yet she topped polls for generations..
9th-Jun-2006 03:05 pm (UTC)
I think if you asked readers of the Times or London Review of Books or the Guardian or ANY of a host of publications similar to the NYT you'd get a rather diferent result.

*nods* That's what I suggested to doktor_x. Highbrow types tend to be pretty inbred in their tastes, and I suspect, that there would be as much if not more consensus for an exercise like what the NY Times did in the US in the UK. I wish they would try it, actually. I don't know nearly enough about the contemporary British lit scene, and the kind of discussion it would generate would undoubtedly be fascinating.
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