Under the Reader’s Radar – celebrating the quiet book

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.

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 is suggested by Gilly MacMillan. Her latest novel, To Tell You The Truth, will be published by Century on 25 June 2020.

She has chosen Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tocarczuk, published by Fitcarraldo Editions on 18 October 2019.

With Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Man Booker International Prize-winner Olga Tokarczuk returns with a subversive, entertaining noir novel. In a remote Polish village, Janina Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. She is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she’s unconventional, believing in the stars; and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, Duszejko becomes involved in the investigation. By no means a conventional crime story, this existential thriller by ‘one of Europe’s major humanist writers’ (Guardian) offers thought-provoking ideas on our perceptions of madness, injustice against marginalized people, animal rights, the hypocrisy of traditional religion, belief in predestination – and caused a genuine political uproar in Tokarczuk’s native Poland.

This is what she had to say:

“It’s an unusual, existential thriller, with a phenomenal narrator called Janina who is a woman in her 60s, deeply eccentric, who lives in the forest, and tells us the story of a neighbour’s death. The book is so well written that I was wowed by it. Originally written in Polish, I read it in translation (which is excellent in itself) after it was shortlisted for the International Man Booker Prize. It’s not a conventional crime novel, but it’s a brilliant one.”

The second suggestion is from Eve Chase. Her lastest novel, The Glass House, was published by Penguin on 14 May 2020.

She suggested Little Big Love by Katy Regan, published by Pan Macmillan on 18 April 2019.

Liam Jones is the love of Juliet’s life. He was her brother’s best friend first, then hers, then the father of her son. In those shining weeks after Zac was born, she’d never been happier, and neither had Liam.
Until the night he disappeared without a trace.

Zac is now ten, and collects facts: octopuses have three hearts; the world’s heaviest man weighed over 100 stone; only three species of animal have a blue tongue. The one piece of information he really wants, though, is the truth about why his father left.

His family refuse to talk about that night but when Juliet inadvertently admits to him Liam is the only man she’s ever loved, Zac decides to find him and give his mum a second chance at happy ever after.

After all, nothing can stand in the way of true love . . . Or can it?

Here’s what she had to say:

“Beautifully written and big-hearted. This is a rare gem of a book about belonging and family and a tough, vulnerable little boy called Zac – I loved it.”

So two completely different books, both of which sound very appealing to me. Have you read either of them? Do you have a quiet book you’d like to shout about? Do let me know.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Drive Your Plow… is a wonderful read. Very individual, wonderful protagonist, memorable setting and unlike anything else I’ve read really. Highly recommend it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Sounds fantastic. I will have to get a copy!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. heavenali says:

    I also recommend Drive your Plow… it is quite brilliant. The central character is a wonderful creation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      It sounds fabulous. I will have to read it.


  3. The Katy Regan is wonderful. It was one of my top books of the year I read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      That’s good to know. It does sound like a nice read.


  4. Kath says:

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about Drive Your Plow… and would like to read it at some point. I’m currently resisting the urge to buy it and stash it in a tbr because we are moving my books around to tidy the house up and get rid of teetering towers and Gareth is beginning to realise how many more books I have than he even believed possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      I’m having to stop myself buying it too, though I know I will eventually. Good luck hiding the books. Tell him it just looks like there are more when they are all piled up 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kath says:

        Good idea! I’ll give it a go.


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