Overrated novels

Here is one nomination for the most overrated novel of the 20th century.

I wonder about Gide and Sartre as well.  J.D. Salinger is too easy a target, as is John Barth.  How about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird?  I keep on thinking there is an obvious and juicy British nomination (just look up how the Penguin Guide to Classical Music treats Elgar recordings), but I can’t settle on a single glaring name which stands above all others.

For the most overrated major author, I’ll pick Carlos Fuentes.  I love Mexico (and I’ve tried reading his works in Spanish), but I find he deadens the place rather than bringing it to life.  Had he not been around for the fashionably left-wing, anti-imperialist 1960s, he’d just be another guy with a pen.

The most overrated good book is Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady, which although very good is far from his best work.

What are your picks?


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