Five Books I Want to See Make The Millions’s Best of the Millennium List

Freshly redesigned lit blog The Millions is revealing its picks for the 20 best fiction books of the millennium this week. They assembled a neat panel of experts (FSG editor Lorin Stein, novelist Gary Shteyngart, Opium editor Todd Zuniga, author Rivka Galchen, etc.) and are announcing the winners five at a time. Today saw the unveiling of:

#20: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
#19: American Genius, A Comedy by Lynne Tillman
#18: Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
#17: The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
#16: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Lists like this are good fun and remind you about books you keep forgetting to read (in my case, Tillman’s American Genius). Here are five books I’d really like to see make one of the final 15 slots and their odds on doing so. These are not my picks for the five greatest, just five that I really love. In order of decreasing likeliness.

Five Books I Want to See Make The Millions's Best of the Millennium ListPastoralia by George Saunders

George Saunders must be the most ripped-off author among young writers since Raymond Carver… and for good reason! Dude is the real deal. Funny, heartbreaking, innovative, outrageous, brillaint—pick your adjectives.

Odds of making it? 90%

I think it would be nearly unfathomable if Saunders’s signature collection missed The Millions’s list. Safe money at your lit bookie.

Five Books I Want to See Make The Millions's Best of the Millennium List Home Land by Sam Lipstye

Sam Lipstye is proof that the comic novel is not dead. His collection Venus Drive is also essential, but I will give the nod to Teabag and his bitter missives to his old high school.

Odds of making it? 73%

This might seem high, given that Lipstye may not be the household name Letham or Eugenides are, but I feel like the panelists in question will be the types to recognize Lipsyte’s genius. Home Land was runner-up in the 2006 Tournament of the Book and the winner of the first ever Believer Book Award.

Five Books I Want to See Make The Millions's Best of the Millennium List Almost No Memory by Lydia Davis

They say Lydia Davis is a writer’s writer and I’m a writer’s fiction blogger, so there you go. Davis is an essential voice in modern fiction and I’d be pretty surprised if she didn’t make The Millions’s list.

Odds of making it? 20%

“Wait, didn’t you just say she was almost a lock?” Hey! I’m not a liar! I think Lydia will make it but I feel there is a strong chance the judges will go with the hipper McSweeney’s published Samuel Johnson is Indignant or the recent NBA nominated Varieties of Disturbance. Those judges will be wrong, as Almost No Memory is the superior collection, but you can’t win ‘em all.

Five Books I Want to See Make The Millions's Best of the Millennium ListI Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down by William Gay

William Gay is a the current king of Southern Gothic, as far as I’m concerned. He also has the most awesome grizzled author photo of all time.

Odds of making it? 10%

My gut tells me these twisted Southern tales are not quite as appreciated as they should be with these Yankee Millions’s judges (note: I do not actually know the exact Yankee-ness of the Millions’s panel). 10-1 odds are all I can give.

Five Books I Want to See Make The Millions's Best of the Millennium ListBilly Hazelnuts by Tony Millionaire

I don’t care if Billy Hazelnuts is a comic book that is oestensbily written for kids, it is one of the funnest things I’ve read this millennium. It is a madcap, swash-buckling ride from the drunken genius behind Maakies.

Odds of making it? .2%

The token graphic novel entry will probably go to Chris Ware or something. Hey, I liked Jimmy Corrigan well enough, but it didn’t have a seeing-eye skunk or a trash golem with insects for eyes.

Lincoln Michel keeps a personal blog at and tweets @TheLincoln. His work appears or is forthcoming in Tin House, Oxford American, The Believer, NOON, Bookforum, and elsewhere. He is more


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