November 29, 2012
You are not on the list of the hundred most important writers in New York
by Dustin Kurtz
Culture blog Flavorwire released a slideshow Wednesday morning, listing the one hundred greatest writers from the New York City region. After having clicked through all hundred photos at least three times, it has slowly become clear that somehow, despite your having prepared exactly the right width of humble smile for when your friends mentioned it to you, your photo was not among those chosen for their slideshow.
New York is almost laughably full of authors, meaning that the folks at Flavorwire must have had a tough time making their selections, not to mention determining the ranking of authors they’d chosen. The process is so daunting, in fact, it seems inevitable that some writers, no matter how prominent or promising, would have fallen through the cracks, your mother is reported as saying.
Flavorwire’s standards for inclusion were admittedly pretty subjective.
In making our list, we’ve chosen writers and journalists in the NYC area with serious literary merit, taking into consideration their legacy, their publishing history, and their cultural relevance across the board.
They are criteria that would explain the inclusion of celebrated greats like Philip Roth and Don DeLillo alongside relatively lesser-known authors like you, had you been included.
Criticism of the list quickly arose on twitter, though surprisingly those critics tended to focus on the absurd number of clicks needed to view the full piece rather than your puzzling exclusion from it. The Awl even had a parody piece of their own posted mere hours later: “The English Language’s 26 Most Important Letters.”
You are not on that list either. Yes, you checked.
Unlike some listicles, however, the Flavorwire piece was not solely a list of authors somehow deemed more worthy than you. Flavorwire also interviewed some of their chosen authors and asked them their opinions of Roth’s announced retirement (a topic you have many brief pithy and practiced opinions about), and to recommend their own favorite up-and-coming writers who might be deserving of attention. These choices were, in many ways, more rewarding and interesting than the original hundred chosen by Flavorwire, or they would have been had any of the authors had the bravery and wisdom to recommend you. Sapphire chose Suheir Hammad, Keith Gessen chose Emily Witt, and Tom Wolfe, it should be noted, chose Jonathan Franzen as his favorite emerging author. What the hell, Tom? What the hell?
Flavorwire has not, as of press time, chosen to update their list with any sort of amendment or apology, but it’s been about three minutes since you refreshed that page, you should probably go check.
Dustin Kurtz is the marketing manager of Melville House, and a former bookseller.