Friday, November 7, 2008

Let the End of Year Listmaking Begin

It's early November and already a couple of lists of the year's best books are out.

Publishers Weekly has a fiction list of 25 books including three short story collections: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Boat by Nam Le, and Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock.

Amazon has several numbered lists to scroll through. Their editors' list of the top 100 books--of all types--includes five short story collections. Knockemstiff is the highest ranked, at #21. The Boat is at #29. And Unaccustomed Earth is ranked #39. The other two books in the top 100 are Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (#53) and Ms. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (#95). Lahiri's book is ranked 18th on the readers' top 100 and #2 on the readers' Literature & Fiction list. Pollock's collection is #10 on the editors' Literature & Fiction list.

These are all good books. But I can think of several excellent collections that didn't make the cut. The list of winners and finalists that we announce in early January, will include our choices. In the meantime, I'll keep my eye out for other yearend best ofs.