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Hitchens Take Heart: NYTBR Also Finds Women Unfunny

Over at Paper Cuts, the blog of the NY Times Book Review, David Kelly puts together a preliminary list of candidates for “the funniest novel ever,” about which much might be said. For example, where P.G. Wodehouse is concerned, The Code of the Woosters and Leave it to Psmith may be funny, but they are not Uncle Fred in the Springtime—which is, in fact, the funniest English-language novel ever published, no matter what any of you care to say different. (Even the ones who point out that the Times left out the works of Kyril Bonfiglioli!)

More importantly, as Kelly notes, “someone here mentioned Jane Austen, but only halfheartedly and only after I pointed out that not a single novel by a woman had been proposed.” That’s pretty amazing; no, wait, in the words of bestselling novelist Jennifer Weiner, “that’s hilarious.” She nominates books by Helen Fielding, Gail Parent, and Barbara Parks. Times readers mention Paula Fox, Eudora Welty, and Stella Gibbons. One could also reasonably invoke some Dawn Powell novels set in Manhattan. There’s also To Say Nothing of the Dog, the Hugo-winning novel by Connie Willis, but the NYTBR can’t be expected to stay abreast of genre fiction.

Granted, none of these are as funny as Uncle Fred in the Springtime, but honorable mention might have been made. You can probably think of others.

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