Cover image for The best novels of the nineties : a reader's guide
The best novels of the nineties : a reader's guide
Lesher, Linda Parent, 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, [2000]

Physical Description:
vi, 482 pages ; 26 cm
General Note:
Includes indexes.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR881 .L47 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PR881 .L47 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



This reader's guide provides uniquely organized and up-to-date information on the most important and enjoyable contemporary English-language novels. Offering critically substantiated reading recommendations, careful cross-referencing, and extensive indexing, this book is appropriate for both the weekend reader looking for the best new mystery and the full-time graduate student hoping to survey the latest in magical realism. More than 1,000 titles are included, each entry citing major reviews and giving a brief description for each book.

Author Notes

Linda Parent Lesher, writer, editor, book discussion group member, and lifelong bibliophile, has more than 20 years' experience in scientific research and database management. She holds degrees from Fordham University and from Johns Hopkins University and lives in Washington, D.C.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Make no mistake--Linda Parent Lesher knows how to formulate a reference guide. Her superbly organized overview offers a broad-based selection of 1,033 end-of-the-century titles to please the fiction hound and aid librarians, teachers, critics, researchers, collectors, book club members, and dealers of new and used novels. Entries are listed alphabetically within eight logical categories that encompass such topics as family, race, gender, innovation, geography, historical fiction, humor, and resettings of myth, legend, and biblical lore. For maximum specificity, Lesher particularizes, as with the division of mystery and suspense into contemporary and historical settings. Her appendixes offer audiocassette and film versions and titles paired with reading-group guides. Back matter concludes with brief biobibliographies of authors, and indexing by author, title, and subject (e.g., autobiographical fiction, feminism, gay and lesbian themes, Miles Franklin Literary Award winners, roman aclef, Spokane, and Sri Lanka). The details in the numbered entries will delight the heart of the meticulous book handler; for example, placement in boldface of names of reviewers who have also published novels in the 1990s. Under author's name and country of origin are title, date, publisher, format, and a one-paragraph summary. Each entry concludes with wisps of critical commentary from respected review sources (e.g., London Times, People Weekly Magazine, Washington Post Book World), plus awards and nominations and media versions. One of the triumphs of this reference tool is the quality of typefaces, which group boldface and clear italics around segments of unfussy roman. Columns and spacing keep text in sharp focus; pagination, entry-numbering system, and guide words are unmistakable. Lesher offers a sensible method of title selection, which is comprehensive but not exhaustive. To locate the best of the decade from the English-speaking world, she consulted 100 review sources ranging from major American and British newspapers and review journals to journals in South Africa, Canada, Australia, and India. One minor anomaly is the inexplicable separation of titles listed under the bio of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. Not all the best works made the cut. Two superb reads come to mind, Donna Cross's Pope Joan and Diana Norman's The Vizard Mask. Also, Lesher's book appears to have gone to press before the publication of Sena Jeter Naslund's Ahab's Wife and Isabel Allende's Daughter of Fortune. Still, public libraries should find this volume a useful reader's advisory and book selection tool.

Library Journal Review

In order to bring some of the best lesser-known novels of the past decade to the attention of the "book professional" and the public, Lesher, a writer, editor, and "lifelong bibliophile," offers this highly browsable book containing plot summaries and review information for 1,033 fiction titles by 710 novelists. The novels, selected from an included list of over 100 review sources, were all published in English between 1990 and the end of 1998. They are divided into eight thematic categories ranging from "The Ties That Bind" (love, family, friendship, and community) to "Unique Perspectives" (race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation); these categories are sometimes broken down further. Traditional genres are also included along with the more inventive categories such as magical realism, geographical identification, and family sagas. The concise, well-written entries, arranged alphabetically by author within each thematic category and then numerically (i.e., books are numbered consecutively), contain paragraph summaries of both the plot and published reviews along with a comprehensive list of the latter. Audio versions, film adaptations, and reading group guides are also noted in each entry and listed in separate appendixes. Superbly detailed author, title, and subject indexes complete this winning reference work. A comparable book, The Reading List: Contemporary Fiction (Holt, 1998. ed. by David Rubel), is not as comprehensive or date-specific as Lesher's and does not contain the useful list of reviews or the thematic breakdown. Lesher's book will assist librarians with readers' advisory, book group discussions, and the creation of book displays. Recommended for all public libraries.--Leah J. Sparks, Bowie P.L., MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Lesher's book describes 1,033 "critically acclaimed" novels by 710 authors published in the English-speaking world in the "nineties." Some were originally published earlier (e.g., Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, 1988) but were still in print as paperbacks in the '90s. Lesher's failure to define "novel" disappoints readers' in their expectations that science fiction, romance, fantasy, and juvenile fiction will be found (though many are among the "best novels of the nineties"). Criteria for selection of titles include at least three favorable reviews or award of a major literary prize. Titles are organized under eight thematic or categorical sections, then listed alphabetically by author. Entries consist of a one-paragraph summary of the novel and a one-paragraph selection of representative review excerpts. Media adaptation and mention of prizes are included where appropriate. The three appendixes list books available in audiocassettes, in films, or those for which reading group guides are available. A brief biobibliography of each novelist is provided (with some omissions: Nadine Gordimer's half dozen awards, other than Nobel and Pulitzer, are not included). Author-title and subject indexes conclude the book. Useful for public, college, and university libraries. P. Kujoory; formerly, Southern Methodist University