White Teeth (Smith, 2004) and Lolita (Nabakov, 1955) were no-brainers. Read them, adored them. At Swim-Two-Birds (O’Brien, 1938) intersected in the critics’ choices, so it’s on the list. It’s already proving a bitch to locate. Like Grossman and Lacayo, I wanted to make this a reading and re-reading adventure, so some books that I read when I was much younger, eg. Their Eyes Were Watching God (Hurston, 1937), as well as quite a few I’d never heard of but I’m now curious about, eg. Snow Crash (Stephenson 1992) made the list. I wanted representation from the Caribbean, so A House for Mr. Biswas (Naipaul,1962) made the list, as did an Australian novel, since it’s where I now reside. I wanted to cover as many genres as possible, so I included teen fiction, sci-fi/fantasy and a graphic novel.
And I’m reading Ulysses (Joyce 1922). It was specifically mentioned by the critics as ineligible, even though it is possibly “the greatest novel written in the 20th century”, because it was written a year before TIME. So I’m reading it in December 2010 as a ‘warm-up’ exercise for January 2011. I’ve got some gonads!