What's the best book of the 21st century? To date, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao seems to be the favorite - the BBC polled a few dozen US critics and Junot Diaz's novel came in first place. The full list is available from The Guardian, and includes Zadie Smith's White Teeth and Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, both of which appeared alongside Oscar Wao in our own "Best of the Millennium" list a few years ago.
It's not always a given that good people make good characters. Over at The Atlantic, Tony Tulathimutte explains how none other than one Philip Roth taught him the importance of showing every aspect of your characters–even the bad ones. Here's an older piece from the same series in which Paul Lisicky writes about Flannery O'Connor and her "flawed characters."