The most extraordinary thing about this year's (or probably any year's for that matter) NYT list of "notable books" is the extraordinary breadth of kinds of books that are out there written by some seasoned authors (Philip Roth, Doris Lessing, Joyce Carol Oates, and of course Dante -- a new translation of his "Purgatorio") to new authors breaking into the world of publishing (Raj Kamal Jha).
Quite honestly of the 100 books, I've read two. TWO! And my list of "to read" just got 98 books longer.
What I love about this list, though, is how it shows how many risks publishing houses make, bringing edgy, fantastic literature to hungry readers. We often hear (as writers) complaints about how safe the world of publishing is, but I disagree. Look at A NIGHT LISTENER by Armistead Maupin. What a fantastic, innovative, RISKY concept. A young boy with AIDS talks to a nighttime DJ on his radio show. That's the first on my "to buy" list.
So I tip my hat to the vision and risks publishers take bringing these books to print. The variety of voices, themes, and styles of literature is exploding and it just means that we, as writers, had better work our tails off to add to the richness of literature available out there. It's pretty damned intimidating, but it inspires me to sit, sit, sit and write. And revise. And revise again.