Under the Reader’s Radar – Celebrating the ‘quiet’ novel

There are thousands upon thousands of books published each year. Only a small percentage of those make it to the best-seller list. That doesn’t mean that the rest aren’t worthy of reading. It may be that they are written by self-published authors who don’t have the marketing knowledge or a small independent publisher who doesn’t have the marketing budget to spread the word. Even the larger publishing houses have a limited marketing and publicity budget so can’t promote all the novels they publish to an equal degree.

I’m part of a wonderful online community called Book Connectors where bloggers, reviewers and authors can discuss all things book related. During one of the threads there was mention of ‘quiet’ books, the ones that miss out on the big publicity push. It was agreed that it was such a shame that certain books weren’t as widely read, as the reading public were missing out on hidden gems. So that sparked a germ of an idea and I decided to do a series of posts to highlight titles that myself and other bloggers and authors feel may have gone under the reader’s radar. (That’s was the working title for this series of posts and as inspiration hasn’t struck me with anything better, its the one I’m going with for now).

So in each post I’ll aim to highlight a couple of titles that may have been missed from your reading awareness. Hopefully you’ll discover a treat or two. And please do let me know if you have any books you’d like to suggest.

First up we have Red Room, an anthology of stories edited by A.J. Ashworth and published by Unthank Books. This is a delightful and eclectic mix of stories from a variety of authors, all of which are inspired by the Bronte sisters.

redroomsmall

“In this collection, twelve of Britain’s most celebrated writers have produced short fictions that interact, respond and play with the legacy of the Bronte Sisters. These are stunning and elemental tales, from authors who between them have won prizes such as the Macmillan/PEN Prize,the BBC National Short Story Award, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize and the V.S. Pritchett Prize.”

Don’t worry if you’ve never read any of the Bronte novels either. This is a lovely collection of stories and indeed it contains one of the best short stories I’ve read, Ashton and Elaine, a story inspired by Wuthering Heights (which I have still never read).

You can read my full review here.

Anne Cater who blogs at Random Things Through My Letterbox has this to say about Red Room. ‘Red Room is a fine tribute to the Brontes, and most readers will find stories within the collection that will suit them.’ You can read Anne’s full review here.

Next is a suggestion from Tripfiction, a fantastic site that reviews books set around the world. The Weightless World by Anthony Trevelyan published by Galley Beggar Press.

Anthony-Trevelyan--The-Weightless-World

“‘Raymond Ess is going to kill me.’ So begins The Weightless World – the latest discovery from Galley Beggar Press. This beautifully written debut held us entranced from that first sentence – and line-by-line, it is nothing short of delightful. It also helps that it has a fantastic premise:
 
Raymond Ess is fifty-six, a senior executive, an important man.  I’m twenty-eight, his personal assistant, not important at all.  We work for Resolute Aviation and we’ve come to India to buy an antigravity machine.
 
That’s right. An anti-gravity machine. And it seems crazy – to the narrator, to the reader, possibly even to Ess himself. But the existence of such an instrument also makes perfect sense. Because after all, Ess,the narrator Steven (and we, the readers) live in a world where technology is so advanced that even our phones might as well operate by magic, for all that we understand them. We live in an age when things that would once have seemed miraculous are starting to seem mundane – even if they still, sometimes, bring with them profound implications… 
 
In The Weightless World, Anthony Trevelyan – a new, supremely talented voice in fiction – takes us right up to (and beyond) the limits of possibility. He also weaves a story of deep-rooted humanity, packed with unforgettable characters – and, at its core, an account of friendship, love and loss, which will touch your bleeding red heart.”

Their reviewer said ‘I was gripped by the story and if you ask me now, as I reflect upon the storyline, I still cannot tell you quite what it was that kept me hooked. Its ethereal quality mirrors the heat mirages that rise from the Indian plains…It’s a physical pleasure to read.’

You can read the full Tripfiction review on their website here.

If you still need convincing then I should mention that The Weightless World is long-listed for the Desmond Elliot Prize, an annual, highly regarded literary prize for a debut novel written in English. And if that isn’t enough it has only 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon. I’ll admit I’ve not read this novel but I’ll be seeking to rectify that soon.

Find out more about the Desmond Elliot prize and the other long-listed novels on their website.

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24 Comments Add yours

  1. Great initiative, Janet. I’ll look forward to discovering some unsung gems

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    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Susan. I’ve already discovered one book I want to read and I’ve only just started! Do let me know if you think of any I should include 🙂

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      1. That’s great – I’ll have a think.

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  2. MarinaSofia says:

    I do sometimes get annoyed with all the marketing noise surrounding a book launch, when perhaps much better novels slip quietly under the radar.

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    1. janetemson says:

      Exactly. I’m sure many, many of the best-sellers deserve the marketing they receive but I am left wondering why a particular book is singled out when there are so many other deserving reads. And sadly I am sometimes left slightly underwhelmed by a mass publicised book which fuels the wondering. Do let me know if you have any suggestions 🙂

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  3. Echoing Susan & Marina, great project to champion the ‘unsung’ books Janet, really look forward to seeing more of these posts😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Poppy. I’m looking forward to more of the posts and seeing other people’s suggestions. The reaction so far is great. Do let me know if you have books you’d like to suggest 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a great idea Janet!

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    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Cathy. There are so many great books out there that few people seem to have heard of. Hopefully this is the chance to show them off a bit more. I have your suggestion ready to reveal in a future post 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Annecdotist says:

    What a great idea for a series, Janet, there are so many books that deserve a wider audience. Regarding the Brontë collection, I was interested that I’ve heard a lot about another short story collection specifically around Jane Eyre but was unaware that Unthank had produced this one. As for The Weightless World, I was very lucky to receive an advance copy last year and found it a wonderful quirky read:
    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/-becoming-ungrounded-the-weightless-world-by-anthony-trevelyan
    well deserving of its longlisting for the Desmond Elliott.

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    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Anne. I certainly want to read The Weightless World and hopefully I and others will discover more hidden gems. Great review, glad to hear you enjoyed it to. Do let me know if you have any suggestions 🙂

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  6. Love this feature, Red Room is on my list to read now!

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    1. janetemson says:

      Oh lovely. I do hope you enjoy it. I’ll be sharing your suggestion soon 🙂

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  7. tripfiction says:

    We come across so many unsung books, there are definitely a number that are worthy of a bigger audience. Thank you so much for featuring The Weightless Word, I hope your readers enjoy it if they choose to read it!

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    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks again for the suggestion. Do keep them coming 🙂 I admit The Weightless World had slipped me by, although I had heard of it. Now I really do want to read it 🙂

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  8. What a great idea! I enjoyed this post and will look forward to future posts in this series.

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    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks. Do let me know if you have any suggestions 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Such a great blog piece, my TBR pile just got higher though!

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    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks. I know what you mean. I can foresee me discovering so many more books I ‘need’. If you have any suggestions do let me know 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is such a brilliant idea – like so many readers I know there are so many books that don’t seem to get the recognition they deserve. My biggest gripe to date has been for Worthless Men by Andrew Cowan which was superb!

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    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks. I agree, its such a shame readers miss out on so many great books just because they don’t have billboard advertising or prominence in a book shop. I’ll look up Worthless Men and include it on a future post if that’s ok 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That would be lovely 😊

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