Monday, September 03, 2007

Forgotten, Underrated, Below the Radar

Robert McCrum in the Observer contemplates the unpredictable afterlife of books
... a story of forgotten bestsellers, fashionable names swept into oblivion and overlooked figures growing in posthumous stature.
And asks 50 celebrated authors to name the books they consider to be the most underrated classics. The list they provide is fascinating, the arguments for picking up these books again convincing.

Part one is here, and part two here.

What would you add?

Okay here's my choice (though I can think of several others):

I read a most intriguing memoir by Belgian author Jan Yoors The Gypsies, in which he tells the story of how he ran away from home at the age of 12 to join a group of Lovari Roma, wandering from country to country. The writing was excellent, the characters sharp, and the story, continued into the sequel, Crossing, (which tells of his capture by the Nazis and the mass extermination of the Roma in the holocaust) ultimately heartbreaking. I bought the books (by post and out of curiosity) from a publisher who specialised in social anthropology. I don't think these books were ever marketed for a more general readership, but they really do deserve to be.

9 comments:

Sufian said...

Nibelungenlied - funner than Illiad + Odyssey combined.

Hunger (Knut Hamsun) - Kicks Dostoevsky's ass.

Distant Star (Roberto Bolano) - Better than *** ** *********

Wilayah Kutu :)

bibliobibuli said...

"wilayah kutu" ... of course! *slaps forehead*

animah said...

Wilayah Kutu

Greenbottle said...

Just to pick three in that list that really interest me & why


(1) The Obscene Bird of Night (1970)
Jose Donoso

... it's totally and unapologetically psychotic. It's also insanely gothic, brilliantly engaging, exquisitely written, filthy, sick, terrifying, supremely perplexing

(2) Eden Eden Eden (1970)

Pierre Guyotat

Banned as 'pornographic' on publication in 1970 by the French Ministry of the Interior, .... Unlikely to be in your local Tesco's...


The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (1975)

David Nobbs

...the best, sharpest, funniest and saddest account of a mid-life meltdown . ...

bibliobibuli said...

i did love the series of reginald perrin some years back.

interesting choices, greenbottle. how on earth did you find the first two?

jawakistani said...

I really wish I have a book that you would want to read so that I can swap it with The Gypsies. But unfortunately I dont. Sigh.

I dare not ask for you to lend it to me because I know how priceless books are...I fear if I do then something bad would happen to them and I'd never forgive myself...

(I do get paranoid over books!!!)

bibliobibuli said...

you can borrow, dear! just drop by one of these days ...

KayKay said...

By Reason Of Insanity by Shane Stevens. A supremely under-rated psycho thriller that pre-dated The Silence Of The Lambs but enjoyed none of its success. A veritable blue print on How To Make A Serial Killer with no attempt to romanticise its antagonist a la Lecter.

YTSL said...

Speaking of anthropology -- "Return to Laughter: An Anthropological Novel" by Elenore Smith Bowen (the pseudonym of real life anthropologist Laura Bohannan).