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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The 50 Funniest American Writers: Who made the list?

Earlier this year, we posted Andy Borowitz’s marketing copy for the forthcoming LOA anthology The 50 Funniest American Writers*: An Anthology of Humor from Mark Twain to The Onion (*According to Andy Borowitz). His hilarious stab at writing catalog copy has since become our most-read blog post ever.

Yesterday USA Today broke the news of the writers who made the cut for the anthology, and last night we posted the full table of contents on the LOA website. The list includes several heavyweights who have their own Library of America volumes (James Thurber, H. L. Mencken, Philip Roth), other well-known standards (Dorothy Parker, S. J. Perelman, Roy Blount Jr.), several neglected rediscoveries (George Ade, Anita Loos, Peter De Vries), and today’s newest stars in humor writing (David Sedaris, George Saunders, Wanda Sykes).

As Andy told USA Today’s Bob Minzesheimer, “Anytime you do a best-of list, people get mad, except for the people on the list. Lists are lightning rods. That's the fun of it. And the most personal thing of all is deciding what’s funny. . . . Someone else could do it and come up with another list: Mark Twain and 49 others. You've got to include Twain, no one stands up better over time.” (Who would be on your list?)

We didn’t plan it this way (honest!) but the finished books arrived in the LOA warehouse yesterday, too. They will be on sale in bookstores in mid-October—but you don’t have to wait! For a limited time, you can order copies directly from The Library of America for immediate delivery at 30% off, with free shipping anywhere in the U.S.


  1. Interesting list, although I would have included Florence King and something from Ambrose Bierce's "Devil's Dictionary." Oh, and Poe's notorious 1835 review of "Norman Leslie," which I still think was the funniest literary smackdown of all time.

  2. Well…lot of people I never heard of, but some on the list are very good. Carlin’s books are simply compilations of his standup acts, so including him is weak. Garrison Keillor is maybe our greatest oral storyteller, but he loses much on paper. The exclusion of Vonnegut and Carl Hiaasen simply had to be oversights of the greatest magnitude, and I’ll bet mr. Norowitz wishes he had those omissions back.


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