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Publication: Publisher's Weekly
Date: June 1, 2006
Up-and-comers: The Young Turks with a Pen
There was quite a bit of grumbling when Toni Morrison took the crowning spot on the New York Times much-hyped recent list of the best fiction from the last quarter century. But even more noise was made about the nature of the list itself; although it was rightfully peppered with the likes of veteran (and aged) authors like Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy and John Updike, it seeming ignored younger authors and newer books. But according to one panel at BEA, "Brave New Worlds: A Spirited Conversation on Fiction Under 40 and the Future of the Novel," the kid writers are all right . . . even if the Times didn't recognize it. Moderated by Time magazine's appropriately youthful Lew Grossman -- who was joined by an equally fresh-faced group of critics from around the country -- the panel was dedicated to a kind of literary hit-list exercise: Who are the young, noteworthy up-and-comers writing today?
Flanked by four other National Book Critics Circle members -- Laura Miller of Salon, Jennifer Reese of Entertainment Weekly, Oscar Villalon of the San Francisco Chronicle and freelancer John Freeman -- Grossman began by putting to rest a common misconception: the reigning literary whiz kids aren't really kids anymore. Noting that the heavies who so often come to mind when we think about literary fiction -- Jonathan Franzen, Jeffrey Eugenides, David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Lethem -- are now all over 40, Grossman asked each of his colleagues to name three promising American writers under that age.
Jonathan Safran Foer