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The Millions finds Franzen's 'The Corrections' best of the millennium

September 25, 2009 |  9:16 am


The blog The Millions put out a call to a variety of bookish types -- critics and bloggers, authors and editors -- and asked for five top picks for the best novel of the millennium (so far). They've been teasing out the top 20 all week, and today announced that Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections" is No.1.

It's an interesting pick. In 2001, Franzen created a stir by expressing mixed feelings about his novel being an Oprah Book Club pick, after which Oprah closed down her book club for some time. But that isn't top of mind for those who weighed in for this list. "I think many writers ignore the hype around it," says C. Max  Magee, the editor of The Millions, "and appreciate it as a masterful piece of writing."

The immediate runners-up were "The Known World" by Edward P. Jones in second place, "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell in third, "2666" by Roberto Bolaño in fourth and George Saunders' "Pastoralia" in fifth.

The top five show that even with a slightly serendipitous a selection process, a top list can have some range. "The Corrections" is about a family in the contemporary Midwest, "The Known World" set in the Antebellum South, and "Pastoralia" is entirely unreal. "Cloud Atlas" and "2666" are both postmodern, or postmodern-ish, and the latter is a work of translation.

There's a reader poll that sets Junot Diaz's "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" in the top spot. And some backlash has already begun burbling in the Twittersphere about whether or not "The Corrections" deserves the best book of the millennium spot. As for me, I'm not sure, but it makes me want to go back and read the book again. What do you think? 

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Jonathan Franzen. Credit: Greg Martin