Harper Lee: The greatest or not?

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FILE: Harper Lee to Publish Second BookThe American-Statesman newsroom got into quite a discussion this morning about the publication of the second novel by Harper Lee.

One editor, who happens to be an Alabama native like I am, said that Lee was America’s greatest living author. And while I admire “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I do not think that qualifies as making her the greatest of our authors.

So, I was challenged to name a few who might be considered better. And in that regard, here’s my list. It’s not extensive. In fact, it’s off the top of my head. But it could make for a lively discussion.

My list would obviously include Cormac McCarthy, whose Border Trilogy is one of the great achievements of our time, especially from a Texas perspective.

Also on the list would be Toni Morrison, author of “Beloved” and many other fine novels.

I’d also add Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, Jennifer Egan and Annie Proulx. And there are lots of up-and-comers, including Austin’s Philip Meyer and Brian Hart.

And then there’s the question of whether you would include nonfiction writers among the greatest living authors, and I’d argue that you should. I particularly admire Lawrence Wright, Robert Caro and many others.

So, if you’d like to join the debate, please do. We’d love to hear from you.


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