There's a discussion across at The Picador Blog about the way in which Anne Tyler's books are marketed to appeal to a female readership. By implication, it's also about whether she is more of a writer for women than for men.
For me Tyler is as good as any contemporary writer in the English language that I've read. That means she's as good as Cormac McCarthy and Philip Roth. I can't understand why a man wouldn't want to read her books. She writes about families and the relationships that form them: husbands and wives, parents and children, siblings; and, repeatedly, the women - occasionally, also, men - who aren't quite in harmony with where they are, who are oddly placed in their own families or their 'adopted' ones. And she writes about the awkwardnesses of family life, its rough edges and its dramas as well as its humdrum realities, its impossibilities but also its necessities, the emotional lifelines it provides. And about the efforts of ordinary people, good, battling people, to get by and to carry on. Tyler's characters are meticulously created and the books which they people are full of incident, of the surprises of life - unexpected events and the responses to them - breaking upon each of the worlds, the patterns of domestic life, into which the author has skilfully guided us. Her eye for how people comport themselves and her ear for how they talk is second to no other living novelist's that I know.
Cormac McCarthy has said that he isn't a fan of writers who don't deal with issues of life and death. But Tyler is, if I may adapt McCarthy's meaning, life and death: she shows the lives people lead, and - what is life and death to them - their efforts to get along with those they love and those they are stuck with, their days, their dreams, their fates. If these are women's books, the men who pass them by as being such close off a part of the world to which they all, willy-nilly, belong.
I started reading Anne Tyler last year. I loved the first book of hers I read (Celestial Navigation), with its two oddly-assorted, intertwined lives, its dramatic, defining plot turn, its humanity, its humour, its sadness. I was equally taken with the second (If Morning Ever Comes). I decided to read them all, one every month or so. Well, you've got to have a plan! I'm nearly done now (later: scratch 'nearly') and there's only one of Tyler's novels that I wouldn't recommend to anyone looking for a good read. Here, nonetheless, is a ranking.
A Patchwork Planet
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
The Accidental Tourist
The Amateur Marriage
If Morning Ever Comes
The Tin Can Tree
Searching For Caleb
Ladder Of Years
Digging to America
The Beginner's Goodbye
A Slipping Down Life
Back When We Were Grownups
Whether or not you let yourself be guided by this ranking is annetylery up to you.