Thursday, January 21, 2010

Underappreciated author pep rally...

btt button

Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not…

I had to think about this one, because although for a while people had not heard of Australian novelist Tim Winton, I think that Breath changed that. Richard Powers seems to be on the map too since The Echo Maker and Deirdre Madden with Molly Fox's Birthday (but if you say 'who?' to any of these names, then that's my answer to you - go out and read them .) Iris Murdoch also achieved popular fame, unfortunately more for a movie about her Alzheimer's disease in which she was played by Judy Dench than for her books (so read her too!). I almost answered Nicholas Mosley, but the last sentence of your question changed that. Mosley's work is dense as well as stylistically challenging. His masterpiece - Hopeful Monsters - is a wide ranging novels of ideas spanning history and biology across the 20th century (as well as being a love story). If you can get through this brilliant book then read it. But I cannot say, as the last sentence of your question stipulates, that I don't understand why he's not famous. His work is very demanding. So if I am to include that last sentence, then I would answer with Chiam Potok and Herman Hesse, who have both had their moments of fame, but they have passed. Potok wrote all his beautiful works about Orthodox as well as secular Jews living in a little corner of Brooklyn, N. Y. I think his stories are all set between the 1940s and the 1970s, but the human content of his stories could not be more universal or his writing more accessible. His books include The Chosen, The Promise and my favorite, My Name is Asher Lev. A beautiful author whose works deserve to be widely read. I'll also campaign for Herman Hesse, the German author from the first half of the 20th century who wrote Siddhartha and Steppenwolf which may currently doom him as an author of classics. Funny enough, in the 1960s, he was embraced as a writer who connected with the Eastern mysticism popular at the time and who was willing to be a critic of the institutions of his day. Really, he is a wide ranging author of immense passion and humanity. Beneath the Wheel is a wonderful example of his early work. I am also a fan of Demian, Narcissus and Goldmund, and The Glass Bead Game. And just for good measure - I will also put in a plug for reading the wonderful novelist and diarist May Sarton and one of my current but underappreciated favorites - Sarah Salway. You must read her Tell Me Everything.

6 comments:

Nise' said...

I am one saying, "who?". In my teens and twenties I read and loved Chiam Potok and Herman Hesse's books.

Jennifer said...

I will be looking into May Sarton and Sarah Salway. My BTT: http://www.rundpinne.com/2010/01/booking-through-thursday-21-january.html

Susan B. Evans said...

Potok has been on my radar for awhile now. I really need to look up some of his work at the library...

My favorite relatively unknown author is Brian S. Matthews. Here's my full response.

Michelle said...

I've had a couple of Potok's books sitting on my shelf for several months now, but haven't gotten around to reading them.

I do know that a local book club in my area read one of his books (I can't remember which), because I had all sorts of little old ladies coming into my library looking for it!

mattviews said...

First of all, thank you, because this post alone will contribute to a month full of reading. Richard Power can be a mixed bag, but I do have enjoyed The Echo Power, which blends neuroscience into fiction. Molly Fox's Birthday is nowhere to be found here and I'm ordering a copy. Potok I have never read and I need to change that.

Catherine said...

I think Joseph Skibell (Blessings on the Moon) is a good one.