Over at the Huffington Post, Anis Shivani has compiled his list of the 15 most overrated writers. Now, as we know, the whole point of lists is to argue over them, and by creating this list Shivani has certainly given us something to argue about. And I thank him for that; his arguments, even when I disagree with them, are pretty entertaining.
After trashing the likes of Marilynne Robinson (dude, you are killing me! Gilead?), Amy Hempel, Lydia Davis and Denis Johnson in his prologue, he goes on to name his targets: William T. Vollman, Amy Tan (at right), John Ashbery, Mary Oliver, Helen Vendler, Antonya Nelson, Sharon Olds, Jorie Graham, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jhumpa Lahiri, Junot Diaz (above), Louise Gluck, Michael Cunningham, Billy Collins and, hilariously, Michiko Kakutani, book critic of the New York Times.
Shivani is quite funny in his trashing of Kakutani, probably the most feared critic on the planet, and he writes well overall. I'm sorry to see he thinks A Farewell to Arms deserved a Pulitzer Prize (speaking of overrated novelists, Ernest Hemingway would be at the top of my list, heresy though that may be). But we absolutely must part company on Lahiri and Diaz, neither of whom, as far as I can tell, has ever written anything that wasn't remarkable.
He'll post a list of most underrated soon; can't wait!