I was caught out in a contradiction when I told my wife I'd put the Valentine's Day card she'd given me in 'my favourite book.' She had asked me where I had put the card, and I told her, picking up a copy of Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence. "But I thought that Japanese writer was your favourite," she said. Well, that's true, I probably did say that at one point (depending on which Japanese writer she's talking about). So I said, evasively, "top five." Here they are, really in no particular order (and there are six):
Orhan Pamuk is one of my top five writers of fiction (in translation). My favourites are Museum of Innocence and Snow. Both changed my life (this is my criteria for 'top writer').
Haruki Murakami is another. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is absolutely amazing and wonderful. (Kenzaburo Oe is the other Japanese writer I admire immensely, especially Rise Up O Young Men of the New Age!)
Roberto Bolano. The Savage Detectives is a really incredible novel, with an almost infinite cast of characters.
Peter Matthiessen. Here we finally arrive at a writer who constructs his novels using the English language. Shadow Country is a trilogy, and it is my favourite work of fiction in English.
Joseph Boyden and
Guy Vanderhaeghe: these two Canadian writers are my favourites. Boyden wrote Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce, both featuring Cree characters and northern Ontario landscapes. Vanderhaeghe writes 'westerns' set in the 1800s in western Canada (see A Good Man)
Not that I've been reading fiction!