Note from the editor:
Yet another Nobel Prize season has came and gone. Bets were placed, money was lost. This year’s winner in Literature, Zanzibar-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, seemed to take most by surprise. But given that a Black writer hasn’t won the award since Toni Morrison in 1993 and what The Swedish Academy noted him for as an “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents” the prize seemed more than righteous and just. Congratulations to Mr. Gurnah; I share the sentiment of the takes from the mostly American writers I’ve seen: we look forward to reading your work.
Another fun part of Nobel Season is imagining the ballots of possible winners, and if you’re on Literary Twitter, you’ve probably come across one writer’s gargantuan efforts of thoughtful passages and threads pleading the case for hundreds of writers, everyone from Yōko Ogawa to Ben Marcus. I’m speaking of no one other than Luis Panini. Below you will find his full-length list of 130 Notable Nobels, which also doubles as a remarkable recommended reading list. Here, please allow me to take some liberties as EIC and note that there is one writer who I believe is near the top for most-deserving of the prize, but did not meet Panini’s thorough, fair, valid, and subjective measures for consideration—that is Don DeLillo. DeLillo’s catalog is a mosaic of American despair, exploring the depths of paranoia in capitalism, the ails of media, advertising, and celebrity. With a swift, sharp coolness and master craftsman’s use of language, his work is a focused portrait of the meaning of art and the artist, of human connection and disconnection, of love and violence, of the light and the dark underside of humanity. And now the list.
1. László Krasznahorkai
Susan Sontag called him “the Hungarian master of the Apocalypse”. His prose is riddled with subordinate clauses that meander with lyrical elegance. He is, without a doubt, one of the finest living novelists.
2. Hélène Cixous
For nearly five decades she has been at the forefront of the Feminist movement and has not only taught us about the “écriture feminine”, but also on how to innovate by blending theory, autobiography and fiction in a single literary work.
3. Gerald Murnane
He lives in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by dust and kangaroos, in a village with fewer than 200 residents, and has never traveled outside of Australia. His fiction flirts with the autobiographical and vice versa.
4. Scholastique Mukasonga
Her prose is poignant and disquieting in equal measure, her novels portray the tension between Hutus and Tutsis that led to one of the most repulsive events in human history that devastated a whole nation.
5. Silvia Baron Supervielle
She was born in Argentina, but it is in France where she is a star. She is 86 y.o. and writes in her second language. What she manages to communicate in a brief stanza of extremely short verses is astounding.
6. António Lobo Antunes
His academic background in psychiatry has allowed him to scrutinize masterfully the passions and obsessions that fuel his characters, who constantly try to find their place in an indifferent world.
7. Mircea Cărtărescu
A delirious city is one of his main characters. His goal is to contain the entire universe in a single book. Labyrinthine maximalism filled with landscapes where questions are rarely answered & destabilize whoever wanders in them.
8. Yōko Ogawa
Perversion has never been more refined, cruelty never more subtle. She’s also capable of filling the page with extremely moving stories. Her use of emotional juxtapositions leaves an echo that haunts you after reading one of her books.
9. Jacques Roubaud
French, of course. One of the most prominent members of OuLiPo (the only current literary movement worth your time). According to him, he “discovers” his own memories while he writes and “destroys” them once written.
10. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
His writing led to his imprisonment. His multiple memoirs are as equally heart-wrenching as they are unsettling. His voice is a true testament that speaks volumes about the struggles, not just of a nation, but of an entire continent.
11. Menchu Gutiérrez
She writes novels with such poetic intensity. Reading them is like looking at a nebula or studying the geometry of a spider web. She is Virginia Woolf reincarnated, but with a different style.
12. Magdalena Tulli
I place this Polish writer on a very high pedestal when it comes to originality. She makes stones speak, loses control of her characters and constantly traces new and claustrophobic territories on the maps of her imagination.
13. Carole Maso
One of the best-kept secrets in American literature. The quality of her prose surpasses that of many “revered” authors. Her writing is perfectly clear and accessible, but something strange always lurks between the lines.
14. Alexander Theroux
“Controversial” & “politically incorrect” don’t begin to describe his linguistic exuberance. His dark humor has been unjustifiably misunderstood. One of the last living geniuses. His work rarely gets reprinted.
15. Philippe Sollers
A bit inaccessible. Jacques Derrida analyzed some of his work! If he isn’t writing monolithic, unpunctuated, single-paragraph novels, he bombards you with thousands of ellipses (thousands…). A true heavy weight in his native France.
16. Amy Hempel
She’s the true boss of American minimalism and you should always keep her five collections of short stories within reach. These contain a plethora of masterpieces. The precision of her pen can be mistaken for that of a scalpel.
17. Cormac McCarthy
What can be said about an author who should have gotten this distinction 20 years ago? He has written some of the most beautiful, challenging, disturbing and luminous novels I have ever read. Simply put: a master of the craft.
18. Alexander Kluge
Celebrated filmmaker and author of hundreds of stories that dissect with a clinical and versatile eye (sometimes these read like reports, sometimes he fuses reality and fiction) the vicissitudes afflicting contemporary society.
19. Ida Vitale
Imagine that you were born in a cube made of concrete from which you could never escape. A book of her poetry lies nearby & reading it is enough to know the entire world, because her poems are mirrors of everything that is human.
20. John Barth
The most notorious figure in American postmodernism. No one has taken metafiction as far as he has. He is playful, particularly demanding and somewhat cerebral, but the reward is enormous once you have fully entered his realm.
21. Patrik Ouředník
A Czech living in France. An explorer of the possibilities of intertextuality who, basically, rewrote the history of the 20th century as a satire. He mixes genres in books that turn out to be a kind of anti-novels.
22. Julia Kristeva
I share with her a literary obsession: the image of the beheaded body. One of the most famous philosophers and psychoanalysts who uses her own theories to profile the characters in her novels.
23. Sergio Chejfec
His prose “beats around the bush”, it’s meditative, imprecise at times, slow, meandering and filled with unfinished messages that bring about a hypnotic and beautiful effect, unique in Latin American literature.
24. Frank Bidart
Diving in the depths of the human soul means exploring its darkest regions and he does it with unmatched beauty. His poetic ventriloquism has allowed him to assume the voice of an anorexic woman or that of a child murderer.
25. Péter Nádas
This literary giant has meditated about his own mortality in front of a tree while recording its subtle changes between seasons. In his books the lives (and bodies) of all human beings appear to be interconnected in parallel ways.
26. Jon Fosse
The existential weight of his books demands undivided attention. He confronts you with everyday dilemmas that you’d rather avoid due to their inevitable, tragic consequences. His prose is sublime, but incredibly depressing.
27. Deborah Eisenberg
Her unpredictable (and always very long) short stories are some of the most talked about in colleges because they display an exquisite knowledge of the human condition and an intelligence worth envying.
28. Margo Glantz
Author of a vast and multi-thematic oeuvre. She has reimagined the world from a dentist’s chair. Hair, shoes and shipwrecked souls coexist in an extraordinary prose whose breadth knows no intellectual limits.
29. Dubravka Ugrešić
She is capable of constructing a novel with multiple narrative styles to display her chameleonic writing gifts. Legends, sadomasochism, absurdity: everything drips from the pen of this talented Yugoslav.
30. Padgett Powell
Some of the strangest characters and comedic situations live in the novels and short stories of this wordsmith. Echoes of Beckett and Barthelme whistle through the pages of his ever-surprising books, but he is his own genius.
31. Mario Bellatin
A man and a ghost who has created a hermetic and self-sufficient world. His writing transcends what we understand as literature. Author of 2-3 books but fragmented into more than 40. His work has no equal and his body should cast no shadow.
32. Annie Ernaux
Her passionate writing is a seismograph that has recorded her personal pain for more than four decades in a series of autobiographical “novels”. Her themes: illness, heartbreak, an abortion, the death of her mother.
33. Drago Jančar
Central Europe acts as the main setting in his novels and short stories where his characters seem to be in an eternal conflict with institutions and the repressive power these exercise over its struggling citizens.
34. Kjell Askildsen
One of the most compelling storytellers of our time. A true minimalist. So few can encapsulate the most complex emotions through seemingly austere and straightforward stories.
35. Zadie Smith
It wouldn’t be premature to grant her this prize at 45. A certain critic coined the term “hysterical realism” to look down on her work, but only managed to increase her readership. She’s a remarkable architect of polyphonic microcosms.
36. Fleur Jaeggy
It never ceases to amaze me how much she can pack in her slender books. You sit down to read one of them and an hour later you’re done, but they linger, refusing to go away until you read them once again from cover to cover.
37. Ron Rash
Besides some of Comarc McCarthy’s books, I don’t think anyone else has managed to capture the brutality & beauty of the Appalachian landscape with such lyrical power. Start with his ‘Something Rich and Strange’.
38. Vladimir Sorokin
The bad boy of Russian literature. Due to various scenes featured in his books he has been accused of being immoral, a pornographer, and against the government. For him, literature is nothing more than typographic marks on paper.
39. Susan Howe
She’s a poet with a thousand heads. She deconstructs language and reinvents it using her own rules. It takes her just a few words or verses to go from total abstraction to unequivocal concreteness.
40. Cole Swensen
Her poems build panoramic landscapes of incommensurable verbal beauty that seem to favor free associations as an assembling method, but somehow come together to offer breathtaking images so fresh you can almost smell them and taste them.
41. Pierre Senges
This man is a bridge to other literatures, a tunnel through which you can access other writers. False narratives, literary appropriations, revindications of lesser characters created by others define some of his work.
42. Cristina Rivera Garza
The bodies of others, their memories, borderlines. Everything in her writing becomes a territory that she explores with an intelligence that it’s not interested in renewing current literary genres, but in inventing them.
43. Gabriel Josipovici
Author of novels that stretch time and stories that are not what they seem and lead the readers to unexpected destinations after walking through unfamiliar routes. His work is interested in a wide variety of artistic expressions.
44. Walter Abish
His output is far from prolific, but through challenging novels and bewildering short stories he has managed to assemble a high-wire spectacle of literary virtuosity that requires from the reader some serious cerebral stamina.
45. Rosemarie Waldrop
Experimental poetry is seldom recognized with literary prizes of major stature. Through a strange and unexpected linguistic dexterity, she allows you to see the world as if you were seeing it with the eyes of The Other.
46. Yuz Aleshkovsky
Russian writer exiled in the US. His prose, which favors vernacular voices and idiosyncratic expressions, suffered censorship due to his satirical streak and obscene situations. We need more writers of this ilk.
47. Chris Ware
He has taught us that the graphic novel can also be literature. The way in which his brain is wired allows him to display the intimacy of his characters in astounding ways. The meticulous composition of each of his pages is a work of art.
48. Myung Mi Kim
Verbal accumulation, persistent fragmentation, the abundancy of the white space on the page, residues of a mother tongue that discreetly dot her poetry and show the inability of language to communicate complete ideas.
49. John McPhee
There are two ways of going about if you’re interested in “experiencing” nature. You can either go out there & see it for yourself or you can read his book-length, lyrical essays about some of the most extraordinary places on the planet.
50. Peter Sloterdijk
Since 1950 the Svenska Akademien has not awarded a philosopher who is exclusively a philosopher. He has reinterpreted human history through the spaces we occupy, dividing them into “Spheres” (Bubbles, Globes and Foams).
51. Robert Coover
The influence this man has had on many short story writers and novelists is undeniable. His work is rich in parables, satire and can be politically incorrect. His stories are sometimes puzzling and, almost always, hilarious.
52. José Agustín
It has become commonplace to say that someone is the “voice of a generation”, but he fits the bill like no other Mexican writer. His work has encapsulated the psyche of an entire country’s youth with all its joys and anxieties.
53. Jean Frémon
Maestro of ekphrasis who favors fragmented and kaleidoscopic narratives to assemble some of the most passionate novel-portraits of great artists or of a group of average citizens that somehow synthesize an entire culture and identity.
54. Giorgio Agamben
Some of his recent statements are unfortunate (he is, basically, a Covid-19 denier), but I’ll put that aside because what you can learn from his philosophical works on the nature of aesthetics, linguistics, dogma, etc. remains invaluable.
55. Garielle Lutz
One of the most gifted writers in the US who achieved cult status decades ago. Coming into contact with her work is like discovering a new potential for literature. No one, American or otherwise, writes sentences like she does.
56. Raduan Nassar
An actual living legend. He has only published three books and stopped writing almost forty years ago. The composition of his sentences tends to mimic biblical rhythms that highlight the richness of his rural microcosms.
57. Edgardo Cozarinsky
The characters in his short stories and novels are perpetually destined to cross paths as if fueled by the inevitable curse that is life. His nostalgic tone, almost a signature in his work, always seems to reach you from far away.
58. Joan Didion
She has experienced immeasurable grief and has carried the weight of the world with her sparrow-like hands. She’s the one who chooses to think magically, the one enveloped by blue nights. Life turned into art by the most painful events.
59. Felipe Polleri
If you pick up one of his books brace yourself for a bizarre and wild ride in which you will experience some of the most peculiar atmospheres and perplexing characters known in Latin American literature.
60. Éric Chevillard
He has one of the most original and eccentric voices in contemporary French literature. His books may seem at first like the product of pranks or hallucinations, but he’s not after an easy laugh.
61. Kathryn Davis
Almost invisible fracture lines snake through her fictions, in which unfamiliar realities push characters to that blurry edge where sanity and madness start to fuse. Welcome to the realm of the uncanny.
62. Ivan Vladislavić
South African of Croatian origin who plays with cultural references and distorted perspectives. His verbal entanglements give rise to a narrative malleability interested in finding out what the contemporary novel can do.
63. Harryette Mullen
Her work is scarce, but its linguistic effervescence and phonetic agility, coupled with the exploration of her identity in compact poems that allow multiple readings, have made her one of the most admired poets in the US.
64. Diane Williams
Good luck with trying to make sense of her stories. Her superpower is to disfigure your thoughts. She couldn’t be clearer, but she couldn’t be more ambiguous either. I hardly understand her writing, but I’m obsessed with it.
65. Wayne Koestenbaum
A fabulous fabulist. An inimitable aesthete. An incorrigible flâneur. The baroqueness of his work flows effortlessly and turns his writing into one of the most gratifying reading experiences in contemporary American literature.
66. Dumitru Țepeneag (also spelled Tsepeneag)
We have to thank Dalkey Archive for bringing this Romanian colossus to English speakers. One of the last avant-gardists who favors oneiric sequences over –oh, so boring!– mainstream reality.
67. Ali Smith
“How to Be Both”, “There but for the”, “Like”, “Other Stories and other stories”. These are a few of her titles and already indicate how she manipulates language to create narratives that are always inventive and disorienting.
68. Jacques Rancière
One of the leading philosophers on all things aesthetics who finds new and hidden meanings in works of art -including films-, who teaches us how to see an image and what to make of it. Art will be political, or it won’t be at all.
69. George Saunders
His story “Fox 8” made me laugh, cry, laugh and cry again in a span of thirty minutes. A reading experience that shook me to the core. And all of his stories, each one of them masterful, harbor the most beautiful and strangest contours of life.
70. Marjorie Perloff
What if the Swedish Academy recognized the work of a literary critic? For many years her erudition has guided us through the rivers, waterfalls and tributaries of experimental and avant-garde poetry like nothing else.
71. Nathaniel Mackey
I’ve been reading his work for almost 10 years, always hypnotized by its musicality. Although he has published numerous books of poetry, he’s basically written two intertwined lyrical sequences: Mu & Song of the Andoumboulou.
72. Lyudmila Ulitskaya
Her prose contains the vitality that has turned many Russians into classics, but the way she develops the psychological profiles of her characters has nothing to do with the writing talents of her predecessors.
73. Julián Ríos
Deeply admired by the late Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz & Juan Goytisolo, and considered by many to be James Joyce’s counterpart in Spain due to his grammatical inventiveness, this writer has pushed Spanish language to the breaking point.
74. Claire Malroux
For her, poetry is a medium to ignite memory. Most of her poems appear to be blocks of prose broken into verses, but this doesn’t eclipse their lyricism. The evocative quality of her remembrances is as soothing as a balm.
75. Sophie Calle
A lover stood her up in New Delhi. She followed a man in Paris and photographed his actions. She worked as a chambermaid and perused through the hotel guests’ belongings. Her life becomes art. Her art becomes writing.
76. David Miklos
The everlasting presence of the past in the lives of his characters hits you with the force of a broken dam. Through his spare and telegraphic signature style, he has captured intricate emotions that reveal what humans are truly made of.
77. Charles Baxter
Insomnia is the best ally of this talented writer so committed to the job that one can only secretly wish for him to never fall asleep. He can even brighten up the most mundane details in his books with just the turn of a phrase
78. Pierre Michon
How do you classify the work of a writer whose prose fluctuates between the portrait and the vignette, the historical anecdote and the biographical fragment? You don’t, but those are the building blocks of his oeuvre.
79. Liliana Heke
Through her outstanding short stories, she has assembled a memorable army of mothers, daughters, housewives, housemaids, women on the brink of emotional emancipation and others who confront subtle, but devastating class inequalities.
80. Etel Adnan
She has created an oeuvre that is the product of the purest literary amalgamation: essays that read like poems, poems that read like memoirs, aphorisms that read like fictions and reveal the beauties and horrors of what it means to be human.
81. Ismail Kadare
I’m not the biggest reader of fiction with historical undertones, but he has had me hooked on his novels for years because these focus on peculiarities: the dreams of a population, the recovery of cadavers, a walled-up bride.
82. Lyn Hejinian
Some of her work has reached canonical status in American poetry. Her writing is hybrid in nature, as it can be associated with seemingly opposing lyrical forces: the school of Confessional poetry and the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets.
83. Ryszard Krynicki
“I live / in the place of death,” wrote this man who was born in a concentration camp. The dense and pervasive bleakness of his poetry stays in your body after reading it, like a heavy metal that is impossible to flush out.
84. Jacques Poulin
Cats are featured in every book I’ve read by him, but it’s not the reason why I like him so much (although it helps). His prose is quiet, introspective and restrained, but so powerful. There’s weather, shadows, and unending nostalgia.
85. Ann Lauterbach
Her imaginative powers have allowed her to create her own linguistic cosmogony, one she displays in fragmentary forms that always take the reader through broken up, discontinuous paths and offer unexpected results.
86. Pascal Quignard
“Erudite” is the first word that comes to mind when I think of him. His books tend to be unclassifiable. Are they essays? Fictions? Historical Treatises? Research? It doesn’t matter because not a single one has let me down.
87. D. A. Powell
Elastic poetry composed of panoramic verses that stretch from one side of the page to the other in beautiful, elongated lines that prolong the presence of those who have vanished, but also of those surviving.
88. Christine Schutt
A literary stylist of the first order and one of the most original American writers working today. Her work explores unusual territories of domesticity, creating portraits that most families would rather keep in the attic or basement.
89. Olvido García Valdés
It is in the conversational tone of her poetry where her greatest lyrical richness lies, in how she reveals to us the mysteries of her world, as if we were sitting next to her, commenting on the flight of wandering birds.
90. Steven Millhauser
An unquestionable master of the short story with an imagination that should be proclaimed a national treasure. His mind dares to wander in terrains so bizarre that the fine line between reality and fantasy quickly fades away.
91. Coral Bracho
Her poetry represents an essential filter for the world to reveal itself to you in unexpected ways, as if you were looking at it through a faceted gemstone that manages to bend the light and take your eyes to new places.
92. Tobias Wolff
Besides writing one of the most celebrated memoirs, he has authored some of the best short stories in the English language. He knows exactly what makes a person and his prose doesn’t shy away from showing all the unsettling details.
93. Ron Silliman
His multilayered poetry always takes the most sinuous and least explored routes available. He doesn’t just write books of poems, but voluminous poetic projects that continue to grow and mutate for years, like a human life.
94. Lyudmila Petrushevskaya
Reader beware: her stories will shock you through and through. She’s not interested in the dark side of humanity, but in its darkest side, and has shown us why we deserve to face an irreversible mass extinction.
95. David Trinidad
Maddening obsessions account for the best type of creative fuel a writer can hope for. Thankfully, he has many: Barbie dolls, classic movies, listicles, glamour, soap operas and Jacqueline Susann. Flamboyance at its best.
96. Calvin Tomkins
Not only did he pen the most admired biography on Duchamp, but he has also written with such fervency and candor dozens of profiles on many legends in the art world, letting us know that art criticism can be a literary art in itself.
97. Rafael Courtoisie
Uruguay has given us some of the “oddest” writers in Latin American literature (e.g. Levrero, Polleri), and the work of this author is anything but solemn: one of the strangest, most scathing and unapologetic I have ever read.
98. Enrique Vila-Matas
A great deceiver & a modern Virgil who draws apocryphal maps and leads you down deceitful paths. Author of disquieting novels that distort reality by reflecting a mirror and its reflection in front of the reflection of another mirror.
99. William T. “Dolores” Vollmann
He was labeled by the FBI as suspect S-2047 while a search for the Unabomber was being conducted. His books, generally monumental in scope, are populated by colorful posses of misfits and outsiders.
100. Paul Beatty
I promised myself never to read his work out in public, unless I wished for my uncontrollable laughter to annoy others. Quick-witted, defiant and indispensable, his prose portrays the everlasting clash of cultures that won’t go away.
101. Diamela Eltit
National identity, political denunciation and an unequivocal advocacy for social justice is the make-up of her literary core, plentiful in experimental voices that surprise and ensnare the senses.
102. Dany Laferrière
Awarding him with the prize would set in motion an interesting controversy given the “scandalous” content of his novels. Although not officially autobiographical, his output may be assimilated as autofiction or self-referential.
103. Marilyn Chin
Her exquisite poetry and prose encapsulate a process of cultural assimilation through powerful, rich and always playful imagery in which East meets West and reveals the highlights and discontents of a dual identity.
104. Jim Crace
He has written about the decolonization of the New World, the poetic decomposition of two bodies, the retelling of a mythical voyage scrupulously guarded by zealots, a gathering of short fictions that reads like the oddest culinary treatise.
105. Edna O’Brien
From the onset of her literary career, she has chosen delicate subject matters far too human to pass unnoticed. Her voice rings with honesty and has garnered a few detractors because it makes them feel uncomfortable.
106. Ben Marcus
It shouldn’t always be about recognizing someone’s life’s work, but about rewarding the direction they’re taking. His stories are original & deal with unexplored & ominous themes, like the one about the child who doesn’t love his parents.
107. Sylvia Iparraguirre
Her distinctive voice & style have almost become trademarks in Argentinian literature. The characters in her fiction possess such skewed visions of the world that almost always they seem to float in alternate realities.
108. Mark Doty
His talents as a memoirist and poet seem to be privileged with the type of “hysterical strength” that is capable of splitting rocks, tearing walls down and cutting through flesh to find the inner beauty that remains unseen by the majority.
109. Lydia Davis
Linguistic perfection is her obsession. Her style is quite unique in contemporary American literature. She packs so much meaning into such short stories that she has earned the admiration of hundreds of writers worldwide.
110. Jean-Philippe Toussaint
He belongs to a new generation of Nouveaux Romanciers. His debut novel, which catapulted him into literary stardom, was published by the legendary Les Éditions de Minuit and deals with a man who lives in his own bathroom.
111. Ernesto Lumbreras
His language is almost Adamic: it seems to describe The Things of the World for the first time, as if no one else had done it before, as if reading him was about learning a dialect that “sounds” transparent because it’s so new.
112. Jeanette Winterson
A pusher of literary boundaries, a visionary storyteller who’s no stranger to genderless narrators, genre cross-pollination & the merging of reality and fantasy to weave some of the most unique stories in contemporary literature.
113. Luis Goytisolo
He has written one of the towering achievements in Spanish Literature. The density of his mind flows unobstructed in a current of introspection and intellectual awakening that has earned him comparisons to many classics.
114. Marjorie Welish
Perhaps the most radical, uncompromising and innovative of American poets since Gertrude Stein. An expert on the dismantling and reconstruction of a language made of “used parts” and grammatical experimentation.
115. Raúl Zurita
His poetry is not interested in finding answers, but in asking questions that have not yet been spoken. His voice flies over cities and across rural areas, describing the life, geography and injustices of a nation.
116. Gordon Lish
Besides giving plenty of editing advice to some of your favorite American writers, he has authored more than a few eccentric novels that are hard to classify as well as many exquisitely crafted short stories.
117. Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear
Translating the work of an author is an undeniable act of creative writing. They’ve revitalized the Russian classics in a language spoken by 1.5 billion people worldwide, of which 400 million are native speakers.
118. Mary Jo Bang
Mortality seems to be the driving force in some of her magnificent poems that capture so vividly the inexorable passing of time or the death of a loved one. Plus, she has rendered a contemporary and accessible version of Dante’s Comedy.
119. Robert Hass
One of the most talented American poets of the last century. The scrutiny of his gaze seems to have the power of an X-ray machine from which nothing escapes: the sudden presence of a bird, the despair in a gesture.
120. Mary Caponegro
For many years she has created from the margins of the world, always remaining quiet and away from the spotlight (as if trapped inside parentheses), one of the most incredible, perplexing and surreal bodies of fiction.
121. Fanny Howe
Childhood and memory influence much of her poetry. Metaphysics does the same for her fragmented fiction, which can be extremely lyrical. An undisputable anti-Manichaean who does not believe in the tiresome separation of fiction and poetry.
122. Lance Olsen
Those who simply label him as “too weird” or “too experimental” and choose not to read his work will never know that he’s writing some of the best and most creative fiction in American literature, the type that leaves you in awe.
123. Charles Simic
For more than half a century he has influenced the poetic pulse of many, not only in American literature, but also in other latitudes. Categorizing his work is impossible as he is privileged with a panoptic vision.
124. Miljenko Jergović
He’s the most recent addition to my list of worthy candidates. Author of an autobiographical novel of epic proportions and of stories that focus on the remnants of humanity among those surrounded by the atrocities of war.
125. Mia Couto
A man mourns the death of his wife while waiting for an apology from God, a pack of lionesses attacks the female population of a village. Magical ancestry fused with modern predicaments from an author who’s incapable of writing mediocre books.
126. Anne Carson
Once you take her bait, she won’t let you get away. Her work allows you to discover poetic forms that you did not think possible. You start out as one person, but become a different one after reading her.
127. Thomas Pynchon
Maximalism’s Big Daddy. He fries your brain with his entangled and comical novels. Reading one of them is a reward in itself, but we should also get a medal, as most perish along the way, never reaching the opposite shore.
128. Dag Solstad
The Norwegian author most admired by his colleagues. Known for his awkward situations and unrooted characters that can’t find their place in the world. Experimental at times (he wrote a novel composed solely of footnotes).
129. Joy Williams
She won’t take off her sunglasses. Drives a Ford Bronco. She doesn’t own a computer or email account. Her cell phone is archaic. Perhaps the greatest short story writer alive who portrays the “American experience” like no one else.
130. Luce Irigaray
The most important and engrossing contemporary philosopher. She’s written passionate essays, as well as lyrical & imaginary dialogues, in order to understand the hierarchical disparities between men & women.