"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Top Ten: BBC and Sherman Alexie

In a stunning rout, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has been voted the number one book in Great Britain. Here are the results from the BBC poll:

1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (20%)
2. Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien (17%)
3. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (14%)
4. Harry Potter books, JK Rowling (12%)
5. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (9.5%)
6. The Bible (9%)
7. Wuthering Heights , Emily Bronte (8.5%)
8. Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell (6%)
8. His Dark Materials , Philip Pullman (6%)
10. Great Expectations , Charles Dickens (5.5%)

Picking one's Top Ten seems to be a fad these days, as J. Peder Zane has just published a book that consists of writers' top ten lists. Here, courtesy of Zane and the Seattle Times is Sherman Alexie's top ten:

1. "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison
2. "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg
3. The poems of Emily Dickenson
4. "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien
5. "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes
6. "Ceremony" by Leslie Marmon Silko
7. "She Had Some Horses" by Joy Harjo
8. "The Branch Will Not Break" by James Wright
9. "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck
10. "Beloved" by Toni Morrison

Alexie, who will have made the top ten lists of many a reader, has a new novel, Flight,due out in April. Alexie's tour dates are posted on hiswebsite indicating he'll be on the east coast only briefly: June 4 in NYC, June 5 in Phila.

Flight involves the spirit of a boy existing in different bodies, much like another book I read and liked, Ghostwritten, by David Mitchell. I can remember quite a few years ago, when coming upon a book with this kind of subject would have made me drool. Now, it seems there are quite a few books whose subjects play with our understanding of life, death, time and identity. Perhaps all those authors were drooling over the same books, and took it as inspiration to write them. Hm.

Currently, I'm reading The End of Mr. Y, by Scarlett Thomas, and it promises to be a kindred-spirited romp.


Cheryl said...

Thanks so much about the news on Sherman Alexie's new book. I try to buy all of his.
Do you recommend Ghostwritten? I tried Cloud Atlas and liked maybe 2/3's of it. Lost me in the uber sci fi section. :)

Zen of Writing said...

I liked Ghostwritten, and also Number 9 Dream. Haven't read Cloud Atlas yet. Ghostwritten does have what a person might call sci fi elements (not to a Buddhist, perhaps).