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 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 comes from Rowena Macdonald. Rowena’s novel, The Threat Level Remains Severe is published by the Aardvark Bureau and was shortlisted for the 2017 Not the Booker prize run by The Guardian newspaper. Rowena has chosen Only the Visible Can Vanish by Anna Maconochie, published by Cultured Llama.

Love, sex and dating, the daily grind of work in Future Digital, being the other woman, the other man, Beauty and the Beast retold, rabbits, rats and foxes… In Only the Visible Can Vanish, Anna Maconochie brings tales of transformation and hidden identity, revealing the superficiality and depths of life in the internet age.

Here’s what she had to say:

“I really loved Anna Maconochie’s debut collection, Only The Visible Can Vanish (Cultured Llama). It was one of the best books I read last year. Reminded me at times of Angela Carter and Haruki Murakami. Really sharp, sparkling, funny, slightly surreal, occasionally dark stories about love, sex and work in contemporary London. It should be better known.”

The second choice today comes from international bestselling author Tess Gerritsen. Tess is the creator of the Rizzoli and Isles series, the latest of which is I Know a Secret,  published by Bantam. Tess has chosen Belshazzar’s Daughter by Barbara Nadal, published by Headline.

Leonid Meyer is found murdered in his flat in Balat, Istanbul’s decrepit Jewish quarter, a swastika daubed on the wall in the old man’s blood. But Inspector Cetin Ikmen is quick to eschew the obvious conclusion that this is a racist attack. The evidence leads Ikmen and his young lieutenant, Suleyman, to two people: Robert Cornelius, a teacher observed outside Meyer’s flat shortly after the murder, and a retired businessman, Reinhold Smits, known to have had Nazi sympathies. But another link connects these two: a ninety-year-old Russian émigré, Maria Gulcu, a widow who thinks she possesses a secret worth killing for…

Here’s what she had to say:

“While in Istanbul, I picked up a mystery novel by Barbara Nadel called Belshazzar’s Daughter. I had never read her before, but I was captivated by her characters and descriptions of Turkey. She truly is the Donna Leon of Istanbul.”

So there were have it, two more books that had passed me by. Have you read either of them? Do you have any quiet novels you want to shout about? Do let me know if you have.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. I absolutely love this. There are so many wonderful books published every day, and it’s easy for them to sink without trace, sadly. My first book was definitely a ‘quiet book’.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Barbara. It is a shame that so many hidden gems get lost in amongst all the books that get shouted about. Hopefully your first book will be talked about more now your later ones are being a bit ‘louder’ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Carol Lovekin says:

    What a brilliant idea, Janet! My books definitely fall into the ‘quiet’ category & the line “small independent publisher who doesn’t have the marketing budget to spread the word” might have been written for them! It’s incredibly disheartening, not least when, through the kindness of bloggers (not least your good self!) we make an initial splash only to find ourselves falling ‘silent’ once the first flush of reviews falls off.
    Being published in Wales is a double whammy, frankly. We are quiet & invisible! xXx


    1. janetemson says:

      Thanks Carol. I think there are so many brilliant books that pass reader’s by, just because they don’t happen to have the big advertising or because another is being shouted about more. Hopefully this feature will help people find a book, like yours, that they connect with and means something to them x


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