9 Contenders for the Great American Novel: Today in Critical Linking

For Independence Day, nine of our Critics at Large pick their Great American Novels, and it’s a complex and delightful mix of titles that show just how expansive – and expanding – the American story is.

As I have said before, the idea of a single Great American Novel is a vexed idea. A list of 9 Contenders for the Great American Novel is far more interesting than any single pick could ever be.


MIRA Books, the fiction imprint of Harlequin Books, has announced the launch of a new literary fiction line, Park Row Books. Inaugural titles are slated to publish in summer 2017. Harlequin’s goal is to build am imprint which will publish 25 to 30 titles annually.

I still find the way big publishers have imprints within imprints totally confusing and fascinating.


But while Ferrante’s covers are definitely trite, there’s little about them that’s actually patronizing. There are no flowers or martini glasses or shopping bags on Ferrante’s covers, no high-heeled  condescension. There are just images of women doing things that women, in fact, occasionally do: standing still, holding children, being on the beach. And yet, the very image of women doing things now strikes even women readers as unliterary.

I’ve thought the Ferrante covers odd, though I hadn’t thought of them as “chick-lit” covers. This piece considers them in that context quite persuasively.

Roses are red, violets are blue. Books are your favorite thing, so this is the t-shirt for you.
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