Without much fanfare, Philip Roth has declared that he is retiring. There’s a very nice appreciation by Panio Gianopoulos here on Slate, with others, surely, to follow. The best American novelist since Faulkner? Here’s my idiosyncratic list of his true masterpieces: Portnoy’s Complaint, American Pastoral, The Ghost Writer, The Human Stain, The Plot Against America, Everyman, and Sabbath’s Theater. Who else is even in the conversation?
Here, for instance, in reverse chronological order, are the American novelists who’ve won the Nobel Prize since Faulkner’s in 1949:
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Putting Hemingway aside (because I don’t think he qualifies as post-Faulkner, being more or less a contemporary), nobody’s even close. Roth, of course, hasn’t made the list – joining Proust, Joyce, Kafka, Nabokov, Borges, and a very, very distinguished list of non-Nobel-winners who were not deemed worthy in comparison with the likes of Pearl Buck, Dario Fo, Patrick White, and Sinclair Lewis. [Really, it's hard to understand why we still pay any attention to the Nobel (he says, while paying attention to it); indeed, if you had to choose between reading only the works of winners or losers of the Nobel, I think you'd be a lot better off going with the latter group].
[Thanks to Sarah Escalante for the pointer]