Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revised 2008 edition, 21 Jun 2008
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This review is from: 1001 Books: You Must Read Before You Die (Paperback)
This second "international" edition has been revised to include a far wider range of authors, including many prize winners (Nobel - Isaac Bashevis Singer, SY Agnon, Orhan Pamuk, Naguib Mahfouz; Neustadt - David Malouf, Alvaro Mutis), more Spanish-language novels (Carlos Fuentes, Roberto Bolano, Juan Carlos Onetti) and classics like Ferdydurke (Gombrowicz), The Guide (RK Narayan), Dom Casmurro (Machado de Assis), the Chinese epic The Dream of Red Mansions/Story of the Stone, and Seasons of the Migration to the North (Tayeb Salih). Most of the books cut from the 1st edition are from authors with 3 or more entries, giving a much more varied list (although a shame to lose The Brothers Karamazov ?).

The 1001 are still quite biased toward Europe, with fewer US titles than similar books. Everyone will have their own gripes with individual choices (I would have liked to have seen Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar, Paradiso by Jose Lezama Lima, Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman, All the Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren, The Poor Christ of Bomba by Mongo Beti, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, Petersburg by Andrei Bely). It is interesting to see some titles included which are not yet available in English translation (The Unknown Soldier by Vaino Linna, Grande Sertao by Joao Guimaraes Rosa), let's hope publishers take note.

My main reservation - as with the first edition - is the inconsistency. Why include the epic poem the Lusiad and not the Iliad or Aeneid, or verse such as Eugene Onegin and not Goethe's Faust, history like The Conquest of New Spain and not Gibbon, short stories by Lorrie Moore and not Chekhov. Also the index is full of errors and omissions like the first edition (Mishima's The Sound of Waves is listed under William Faulkner).

But this is still a fascinating book to browse and a great source of ideas for sampling world literature. A third edition would be welcome, maybe deleting the "quality trash" (the book's description) like Donna Tartt's The Secret History in favour of more little-known masterpieces which deserve to be better known.
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