There's apparently a debate raging in England -- who's the greatest living British author? It was apparently sparked when someone (Nanuk?) gave Martin Amis that title, leading to, seriously, threats of suicide.
Now, I can't really imagine such a debate entering the U.S. media. I'm not much of an Anglophile, but I'd rather live in a place where they debate the greatest living author, as opposed to "is Britney Spears as fucked up as Anna Nicole Smith was?"
That aside, it got me pondering who I'd consider the greatest living American writer. I guess I'd narrow it down to four -- Philip Roth, Don Delillo, Thomas Pynchon, and E.L. Doctorow. Of those ... geez. Pynchon, much as I love him, is sort of a genre all his own and isn't very representative of American novelists. I've probably enjoyed Doctorow the most consistently, and he touches on a lot of American themes, but ... not quite. Delillo, marvelous as he is, has a few out there that I don't enjoy. So -- Philip Roth it is. (I'm ignoring "Sabbath's Theater") I'm sure this ranks pretty high on his list of accomplishments.
Thinking about this drove home how many of the authors I read are either a) dead, b) foreign, or both. Who am I missing? I haven't read enough of Paul Auster or Cormac McCarthy to include them... Richard Powers, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem probably don't have bodies of work that are big enough yet. Other suggestions?