This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish wants us to list ten authors we feel deserves more recognition.
These could range from authors who have fallen out of favour with the reading public to authors who are well known in their native country but not elsewhere. It’s also interesting because I think that we will all spot writers on other lists whom we think are very well recognised.
Anyway, before I get going, I need to say that I have been feeling very tired, worn out and generally out of sorts and grumpy for a while now. I have no idea why but this may flow over into my list so please give me a little latitude if I am more crotchety or flat than usual.
1. P.G. Wodehouse. Yes, I know he is extremely well known. Yes, I know I go on about him all the time. Yes, I know he is one of the most popular authors around but he still deserves more kudos, more attention and, generally, even more love. In fact, no amount of recognition will ever be enough, as far as I’m concerned.
2. Walter Moers. You’ve probably not read The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear. You really should. It’s strange, fun, deceptive and entertaining. It’ll make you look at things in a slightly different way.
3. H.H. “Saki” Munro. I love his short stories. They are wonderfully witty and often just a little bit twisted and I think his recurring hero, Clovis Sangreal, is great. He’s had plenty of recognition in his time but seems to have faded out of the public consciousness recently. Go read Toys of Peace.
4. Susan Cooper. The ”Dark is Rising” sequence is one of the best children’s fantasy series ever written. The five books feature hefty slabs of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon myth and folklore and have an Arthurian them running through them. I am constantly surprised that they don’t appear to be more widely known in the blogosphere. A film, the Seeker, was made if the series in 2007. It is one of the most execrable book to film adaptations ever and should be avoided like the plague. Read the books instead or buy a copy for your children. You won’t regret it.
5. Max Beerbohm. Beerbohm only wrote one novel but Zuleika Dobson is great. It was named in the Modern Library’s list of the 100 best English language novels of the 20th Century but, even so, I don’t think enough people are familiar with it. Set in
during the Edwardian period, it tells the story of the title character, a remarkable young woman with whom men immediately fall in love but who can only love a man who does not do so. Having caused a mass suicide at Oxford University Oxford, the novel ends with her boarding a train for , a far more suitable target for her fatal charms. Cambridge
6. Robertson Davies. If any of you are Canadian, you will be looking at your screen in puzzlement as he was one of
’s most popular authors. I firmly believe, however, that he is criminally underrated outside the Great White North. Try High Spirits or The Cornish Trilogy to start off with. Canada
7. Tove Jansson. Moomins, Moomins, Moomins. Read them as a child, loved them, want everyone else to get hold of them for their kids. One more time, Moomins, Moomins, Moomins!
8. Geoff Dyer. Probably because he refuses to stick to one type of writing, I think Geoff Dyer is unfairly overlooked. He is a novelist, essayist and non-fiction writer. Basically, he is just a great writer. Try The Missing of the Somme or Paris Trance to get a flavour of the man.
9. G.K. Chesterton. Although he was a reactionary old dinosaur, Chesterton remains one of the great British literary figures of the early 20th Century. He is unfashionable these days but the Father Brown stories are timeless. He also wrote some great novels, such as The man who was Thursday. Described as “a colossal genius” by GB Shaw, he was also responsible for one of the great openings, in The Napoleon of Notting Hill:
“The human race, to which so many of my readers belong...”
10. Arturo Perez Reverte. I know he is pretty well known even outside
but I don’t think he gets as much recognition as he should. Skip over the Captain Alatriste stories, as fun as they are, and go straight to The Flanders Panel or The Dumas Club. You won’t be disappointed. Spain
As I’ve been writing this, many others have sprung to mind, such as Ismail Kadare, Aleksandr Hemon and Manuel Vazquez Montalban. I reckon that, generally speaking, we in the Anglophone routinely underrate authors who write in other languages. Our publishing industries are terrible at bringing translated works to the reading public and there are many, many fantastic authors out there who are almost unknown in the Anglophone world. What a shame for us.