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Critics Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo pick the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923—the beginning of TIME. For the books project, Grossman and I each began by drawing up inventories of our nominees.
This philosophical novel by Polish-born British writer Joseph Conrad is set in the fictional South American country of Costaguana. Last year we consulted you, our readers, to compile a list of the 100 Greatest Fictional Characters of All Time.
In early 2010, with the help of our staff, our readers, notable celebrities, and fans around the world, Fandomania compiled a list of the 100 greatest books of all time. About the AuthorJason is the founder and managing editor of Fandomania, and he co-hosts the weekly Fandomania Podcast with Celeste.
Follow Us!About FandomaniaFandomania is a blog and weekly podcast about entertainment and pop culture — video games, TV, movies, comics, music, books, collectibles, conventions, cosplay, fan creations, and more!
06, 2010Welcome to the massive, anguished, exalted undertaking that is the ALL TIME 100 books list.
Once we traded notes, it turned out that more than 80 of our separately chosen titles matched. Having heard for years that Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road was one of the great but underappreciated American novels, I searched it out.

The Book of Job is one of the most famous attempts of all literature to explain the tribulations of the righteous.
The plot centers on silver mine owner Charles Gould, who is wary of what will happen to his silver and asks an Italian expatriate longshoreman named Nostromo to conceal it for him on an island. We rolled all genres and types into one for this one: fiction, non-fiction, reference, everything!
He is severely into toy collecting, plays a worryingly large amount of games, watches way too many movies and TV shows, and reads more than his fair share of books and comics.
I have spent the months since then pressing it into the hands of anybody who will take it, including yours. Please do not post comments that are commercial in nature or that violate any copyright[s]. There were writers we had to admit we love more for their short stories than their novels—Donald Barthelme, Annie Proulx, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty.
A few titles that seemed indispensable some years ago turned out on a second tasting to be, well, dispensable.
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston’s great story of a black woman surviving whatever God and man throws at her, was not part of the required reading list when I was in school. Comments that we regard as obscene, defamatory, or intended to incite violence will be removed.

Every weekday we revealed five more of the books, along with comments from the voters as well as our own commentary.
This one is chosen by me, Richard Lacayo, and my colleague Lev Grossman, whom we sometimes cite as proof that you don’t need to be named Richard to be hired as a critic at TIME, though apparently it helps. More common was the experience I had with Saul Bellow’s Herzog, about a man coming to terms with the disappointments of midlife by directing his questions everywhere. The week of March 22-26, we revealed the top five books, one a day, all leading up to the number 1 greatest book of all time. Then there was the intellectual massif of Norman Mailer, indisputably one of the great writers of our time, but his supreme achievements are his headlong reconfigurations of the whole idea of non-fiction, books like Armies of the Night and The Executioner’s Song. It left its treadmarks on me even then, but this time his experienced heart spoke to me differently.
Powers, Mary McCarthy, Edmund White, Larry McMurtry, Katherine Ann Porter, Amy Tan, John Dos Passos, Oscar Hijuelos—we looked over our bookcases and many more than 100 names laid down a claim.

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