Comparative lit



It is the ultimate goal of the serious reader to stumble upon a novel or story of unique genius. Once the lucky reader has obsessively plowed through the story, he or she will proceed to read every other work by the same author, in an attempt to recapture the moment of perfect bookworm bliss.

The Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Authors should provide a reliable method of sniffing out the most promising new candidates for this rare and remarkable occurrence. has gathered a pack of 90 editors, authors and journalists to contribute to a well-researched list of old and soon-to-be-discovered favorites.

From the popular (Stephen King) to the unfamiliar (Sherman Alexie), the revered (Raymond Carver) to the jeered (Bret Easton Ellis), short-story writers, epic novelists, authors of science and “serious” fiction alike, it’s a captivating catalog of more than 225 authors in assorted sizes and flavors, all vying for a spot on your next library list.

Each entry contains a bibliography with a few recommended titles of note. The review and analysis which follows is sharp and spirited, and the “See Also” paragraph at the end of the section allows readers to look up their favorite authors to find others who write on similar themes or with comparable style.

Interspersed among the alphabetized directory are several lists and critical essays offering additional instruction for the disciple of modern fiction. Fay Weldon’s list (“Who’s Screwing Who”) includes Lolita and The Handmaid’s Tale; Calvin Trillin recommends five books that made him laugh; Ishmael Reed selects truthful African-American novelists.

Flipping through this literary handbook is as enjoyable as browsing the Web site — both contain savory chunks of amusing text, linked and cross-referenced to other entertaining sections. The problem is: Will rabid readers be able to break away long enough to pick up one of the novels it suggests?

Karen Fisher is MT's information coordinator. E-mail her at

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.