The Times Book Reviews 20162016 The Times Book Reviews
Confusing omissions from the NY Times 100 noteworthy works
Shortly before Thanksgiving, the New York Times Book Review released its 2016 listing of 100 notable works. Anyway, 100 is a crowd, and so the shortlist is essentially a set of nod. Not a true clarion until the 10 appears. However, I have to say that this year's schedule is a little confusing - which does not mean that everything is poor.
It is nice, for example, to see large volumes of smaller press as Max Porter's grief is the thing with the feathers and Melanie Finn's The Gloaming-on there. However, there are some amazing exceptions - a few great ledgers that somehow didn't make the edit, and a few that were so much hype that it just felt a little strange to see a book before.
All of this brings me to the natural question: What does "remarkable" mean? There' s no clue in the book review. Given the limited information on the page of Noteable Journals, all volumes discussed since December 6, 2015 - which probably means that only those volumes actually discussed in the book review, as distinct from Times journals (but I will only include my grievances about them in this other complaint) - are appropriate, but beyond that it seems to be a case of opinions and witchcraft.
Here are some remarkable exceptions from the shortlist. But, look, it's the first picture that appears on my web page when I google "best 2016 books". "That makes it certainly remarkable again - whichever means "remarkable". What Belongs to You came out in January, which is a long while ago, and everyone has already tired of talk about how great it is, so it's not so hot to have it on your November schedule.
This is a bright, important, beautiful book that came out in 2016! I think 2016 was terrible enough, folks. Don't you ever overlook the fact that this book was given to us. Anecdotic proofs suggest that the Notables listing is weighed by incumbent name, although not particularly good - but this book is good (all right, Michiko Kakutani didn't like it, but Joshua Cohen did), and Spiotta is a big thing (at least a big thing for the New York Times Magazine to make a big tread on it around the publication of the novel).
Well, you know, remarkable. I am an Oyeyemi loyaltyist, so I immediately realized the expulsion of her first line, which Laura Van Den Berg described as "transcendent" in the book review. Had I picked the book that caused the most stir in 2016, it should be Brit Bennett's début - or Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad, which made it onto the prestigious census.
After all the good news the Times has given to the novel, this is another case where you don't want to rush into an already praised book? It is another book that has received almost inexorable enthusiasm, not to speak of great reviews. While it won the National Book Award for Nonfiction, no New York Times affection - unlike most other long listed titles, they haven't even checked it out.
As the review of the book seems to be a precondition for being included in this listing, I can't really regret it - but the apparent one. It is another book that received a fervent mention in the book review - a mention that was indeed so ardent that its writer could not stop citing it - and has already ended up on a series of best-of listings from 2016.
It turns out that Ferrante can do something bad - but even if this book is not good, does it make remarkable the eager and far-reaching discussion that it has accidentally triggered in the litur up? Some other very remarkable un-notables!