Toni Morrison’s Beloved (Knopf, 1987) was recently named “the single best work of American fiction published in the last twenty-five years,” according to a survey of several hundred writers, critics, and editors conducted by New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus. Of the 125 votes tallied, Morrison’s novel received fifteen.
Four other books ranked high in the survey. Don DeLillo’s Underworld (Scribner, 1997), received eleven votes; Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian (Random House, 1985) and John Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels (Everyman’s Library, 1995), which is composed of Rabbit at Rest (Knopf, 1990), Rabbit Is Rich (Knopf, 1981), Rabbit Redux (Knopf, 1971), and Rabbit, Run (Knopf, 1960), each received eight votes; and Philip Roth’s American Pastoral (Houghton Mifflin, 1997) received seven votes.
Roth was the author most frequently named by the group of survey respondents, which included Michael Chabon, Michael Cunningham, Nadine Gordimer, Chang-rae Lee, and Lorrie Moore, among others. Seven of Roth’s books received a total of twenty-one votes. The full list will appear in the May 21 issue of the New York Times Book Review.