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 highlight titles that myself and other bloggers and authors feel may have gone under the reader’s radar. (That 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.

The first book to be highlighted this week is The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, published by Oneworld Publications.

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“On her fiftieth birthday and now deemed economically worthless, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material: a state-of-the-art facility where she will make new friends, enjoy generous recreational activities and live out her remaining days in comfort. The price? Her body – harvested piece by piece for the ‘necessary’ ones, until the day comes when she must make her Final Donation. But Dorrit finds her days at the Unit peaceful and consoling: she no longer feels like an outsider, a single woman in a world of married couples with children. Until she unexpectedly falls in love – and everything changes.”

The Unit was suggested by Rebecca Bradley. Rebecca is the author of Shallow Waters and her latest novel feature DI Hannah Robbins, Made to be Broken, was published on 30 June 2016.

Here’s what Rebecca had to say about The Unit:

“It’s stunningly well told in a simple and straightforward way, conveying the sense of how normal this situation is. The undercurrent of fear is woven in with the calm and natural friendships that arise within a group of people who are not at all dissimilar….The reality of reading gave me a sense of calm and concerning unease at the same time. It’s smoothly and expertly told and I absolutely loved it.”

You can read Rebecca’s full review here.

Also back this week to recommend another book is Bettina from Tripfiction. If you haven’t visited her fabulous site where you can find fiction to cover anywhere in the world then I highly recommend you do.

Today Bettina recommends The Scatter Here is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer, published by Vintage.

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“Shortlisted for the 2015 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature
Winner of the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2014

The Scatter Here Is Too Great heralds a major new voice from Pakistan with a stunning debut – a novel told in a rich variety of distinctive voices that converge at a single horrific event: a bomb blast at a station in the heart of the city.

Comrade Sukhansaz, an old communist poet, is harassed on a bus full of college students minutes before the blast. His son, a wealthy middle-aged businessman, yearns for his own estranged child. A young man, Sadeq, has a dead-end job snatching cars from people who have defaulted on their bank loans, while his girlfriend spins tales for her young brother to conceal her own heartbreak. An ambulance driver picking up the bodies after the blast has a shocking encounter with two strange-looking men whom nobody else seems to notice. And in the midst of it all, a solitary writer, tormented with grief for his dead father, struggles to find words.

In a style that is at once inventive and deeply moving, Tanweer reveals the pain, loneliness and longing of these characters and celebrates the power of the written word to heal individuals and communities plagued by violence. Elegantly weaving together a striking portrait of a city and its people, The Scatter Here Is Too great is a love story written to Karachi – as vibrant and varied in its characters, passions, and idiosyncrasies as the city itself.”

Read more on the Penguin website.

Here’s what Tripfiction had to say about it:
“This is a very impressive book. Bilal Tanweer was born and raised in Karachi… and it shows. The city comes through on every page of the book – the filth, the mass of humanity, the constant traffic jams, the charm of many of its people – and the nastiness of others….Tanweer loves the city and its people. The people he writes about are real (if flawed…) and Karachi is absolutely at the heart of the book. It is a vibrant and challenging portrayal of the place and its inhabitants.”
You can read the full review on the Tripfiction website here.
So there we have it, two new books that may have passed you by. I haven’t read either of them, but I think that may have to change. What do you make of today’s suggestions? Do you have any quiet books that you think should be more widely read? If so do let me know.

 

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Premise of The Unit fascinates me… and tbh scares me a little too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I think the same as you, it does sound intriguing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the sound of The Unit, and the whole idea of these posts and recommendations. It’s so easy to only read the books that are heavily promoted and ‘everyone’ is talking about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Claire. I think it’s a shame that so many great books get missed. Hopefully this helps, even in a small way 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Unit sounds right up my street.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I’d never heard of it before and it on the surface it doesn’t sound like something I’d normally read but it has me intrigued.

      Like

      1. I remember spotting it in Oneworld’s catalogue. Not an easy read, I imagine, but a rewarding one by the sound of it.

        Liked by 1 person

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