Hungry Mind Review's
100 Best 20th-Century American
Books of Fiction and Nonfiction

What the Hungry Mind Review had to say about its list:

The books were chosen by five writers: Mary Moore Easter, Heid E. Erdrich, Bill Holm, David Mura, and George Rabasa, under the direction of Bart Schneider, editor of the Hungry Mind Review, and J. Otis Powell of The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis

The Hungry Mind Review list provides a compelling alternative to the Modern Library's selection of "100 Best Novels published in the English language since 1900," announced last July. Although the Modern Library list was criticized for including only six books by nonwhite writers, only nine books by women, and very few books published after 1960, it initiated a lively national discussion. The HMR list reflects a far more realistic race and gender balance, and includes a good number of contemporary books. Our list is however limited to books written by Americans

While the Modern Library list is restricted to novels, the Hungry Mind Review includes distinguished books of nonfiction and collections of short fiction. "Opening the list to nonfiction makes sense in a literary century that has witnessed the blurring of the line between fiction and nonfiction," according to Hungry Mind Review editor Bart Schneider. "It's thrilling to have James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, as well as the autobiographies of Malcolm X and Alice B. Toklas, on this list," Schneider adds. "Essential 20th-century writers like James Baldwin, Joan Didion, and Gore Vidal, who each have collections of nonfiction included on the list, are commonly thought to have done their best writing in the essay form."

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Copyright ©  by Robert Teeter (Copyright and disclaimer page)

First posted: December 2005