The New Literary Canon

Ted Gioia has been curating and reviewing fiction published since 1985 to create “The New Canon.” In his own words “[t]hese books represent the finest literature of the current era, and are gaining recognition as the new classics of our time.” Some of the books he includes in the canon are Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, amongst many others. I agree with almost all of his picks and think this is a perfect starting place for someone thinking about getting into modern literature. One pick that might be controversial to the more serious ‘literary’ types is his inclusion of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on the list, but I think he gives a good defense for its inclusion:

One might think it unnecessary to make a case for this book. After all, it did more for the cause of reading than any novel of the last century. It gave an enormous boost to the purveyors of books far and wide, launching a series that has sold more than 400 million copies to date. It has inspired other writers to publish more than 300,000 (no, I am not kidding) Harry Potter-inspired stories of their own in various on-line forums. It has enchanted readers, young and old, and will certainly continue to do so for many generations to come.

In short, if you had to place a wager on the one book published in your lifetime that will still be widely read a century from now, this is where all the smart money would go. It’s a no brainer. Today’s children will read it to their own children and grandchildren, who in turn . . . Well, you get the idea.