100 Years Later: Which Writers Will We Still Be Reading?

Since I read this New Yorker essay I’ve wanted to write a post on the subject of posterity. In the literary world fame, of course, is fleeting, and quality is no guarantee of longevity. So many unknown factors manipulate someone’s place in the canon, or even just being in print. For me, a lover of short stories, here are my best guesses. They are all contemporary–and living–short story writers:

1. Alice Munro.

2. Stephen King.

3. Junot Diaz.

4. Joyce Carol Oates.

5. Steve Almond.

6. George Saunders.

7. Tobias Wolff.

8. Jhumpa Lahiri.

9. Nathan Englander.

10. Edith Pearlman.

Who do you think should be added? Add your comment below.

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  1. bebischof

    Seriously? No Wallace, Ellis, Pynchon, or Prose. But you include Stephen King and Junot Diaz!? I think King will be remembered at most as a heavily read pulp writer, maybe as well remembered as Robert Howard, or Clive Cussler. I can only hope that time will expose Junot Diaz as a hack, which I think he is.

    Sorry to be so negative, but these seem like some serious omissions.

  2. christopherlinforth

    Hey Brian, I was choosing short-story writers (who are alive! and are primarily short-story writers, rather than novelists) I think will be around in a 100 years, not necessarily my favorite writers. For the record, I don’t like Stephen King’s work.

    1. bebischof

      That’s fine. I still think Wallace is more of a short story/essayist than a novelist, and will be more well remembered than some of the others. I think of Stephen King as a novelist, and I think the jury is still out on Junot Diaz.

      It’s an interested question for sure though. One we completely agree upon is Munro.

      1. christopherlinforth

        I can’t read a Stephen King novel without feeling bloated and in severe discomfort. Even his short stories require Pepto-Bismol. Wallace was multi-genre, for sure, and Munro is one of my favorites!

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  4. Charles Burk

    He’s not a prolific short story writer, but Jesus’ Son is so influential, so what about Denis Johnson?

  5. christopherlinforth

    He is a great writer–and one screwed out of the Pulitzer. If he will be remembered in a 100 years though is hard to gauge. He deserves to be, for sure.

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