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 suggestion this week is from Wendy Holden, who’s latest novel, Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings was published by Head of Zeus on 14 February 2017. Wendy has suggested The Serial by Cyra McFadden, published by Apostrophe Books.

Are you into Living Together Relationships? Personal Growth? Human Life Styling? Is your desire Creative Control? Sadomasochism? Staying MellowAt All Costs? Then you will relate to Cyra McFadden’s The Serial.

Here, in 52 scintillating episodes, are the essential Kate and Harvey Holroyd, desperate fighters in the struggle to stay hip and loose in Marin County, California – a welter of lentil loaves, enzymes, whip fantasies, natural fibres, TM, Zen jogging and vibes both good and bad.

Set at the very epicentre of the self-obsessed 1970s, when everyone talks (without ever saying anything) in the psychobabble of faddish self-help manuals, it’s the most sophisticated, liberated, high energy, naturally organic and hilarious adult soap opera ever!

Here’s what she has to say:

“This tale of hipsters in Seventies California had me crying with laughter on the train the first time I read it. Harvey and Kate are having marriage problems, but it’s really all about their self-consciously trendy lifestyle. Nothing escapes McFadden’s gleefully satirical eye, even (especially) whimsical hipster shop names. Written in 1977 but it could be Shoreditch now. “

The second suggestion is from Claire North, author of The Fifteen Lives of Harry August and who’s latest novel, The End of The Day, was published by Orbit on 6 April 2017. She has suggested Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny, published by Gollancz.

Imagine a distant world where gods walk as men, but wield vast and hidden powers. Here they have made the stage on which they build a subtle pattern of alliance, love, and deadly enmity. Are they truly immortal? Who are these gods who rule the destiny of a teeming world?

Their names include Brahma, Kali, Krishna and also he who was called Buddha, the Lord of Light, but who now prefers to be known simply as Sam. The gradual unfolding of the story – how the colonization of another planet became a re-enactment of Eastern mythology – is one of the great imaginative feats of modern science fiction.

Here’s what she had to say:

“Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny.  It would have been my answer to your cruel, cruel question about one book in the world… but it’s much shorter than the Chronicles of Amber, so I cheated. 

Lord of Light is one of the most beautiful science fiction books I’ve ever read.  It’s set on a far-away world in which the early colonial powers decided that the best way to maintain cultural control was to use Hinduism to create a strict social order in which technology is equivalent to magic.  But it’s also so, so much more than that.  It’s a beautiful, funny, magical story of aliens and philosophy, of adventure and faith.  It’s just the bestest.  Go read.”

So there we have it, two more books that have certainly passed me by. Have you read either of these? Don’t forget to let me know if you’ve a quiet novel you want to shout about.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. I read The Serial way back in the mists of time. It had never occurred to me that it would stand up to a reading decades later but Wendy Holden’s made me think again!


    1. janetemson says:

      Oh, I wonder how it has aged. Let me know if you read it again 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was going to ask you if you’re still running this feature Janet. I do enjoy it.



    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Caryl, I do enjoy it too 🙂


  3. BrizzleLass says:

    Great feature! I’m popping Lord of Light onto my wishlist! Also, Book Connectors, how have I missed this?!


    1. janetemson says:

      Thank you. I hope you like Lord of Light if you read it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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