Books: Best of the Decade: Books

FICTION

Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike (1981). In his third incarnation as the titular hero of an Updike novel, Harold C. ("Rabbit") Angstrom makes good money selling Japanese cars (Toyotas) to Americans. Still, something has gone wrong in Rabbit's native land, and Updike's valedictory to the late 1970s creates an unforgettable comedy of diminishing expectations.

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa (1982). Juxtaposing a romance between the narrator, Mario, 18, and his nonblood relative Julia, 32, with the saga of a writer of soap-opera scripts, this novel, set in Peru during the 1950s, displays Vargas Llosa --...