Posted by: Corri van de Stege | September 3, 2007

Sunday’s Observer and the 50 most underrated novels

The Observer’s Review on Sunday (yesterday)  provides a list of the 50 most underrated novels with names of authors and titles of books that I have never heard of, as well some that we all recognise but have simply forgotten. 
The introduction notes that ‘the unexplored feat of literary life is that most books fail, in at least two ways: they don’t live up to their authors’ high expectation and moreover the majority of books never make it.  In fact, for every book recognised or hitting the jackpot, there are thousands that don’t! 

Sobering thought this, especially when you contemplate writing ‘that book’ or revisiting ‘that story’ that you wrote a long time ago and pushed to the bottom of a drawer, a forgotten file on your computer.  Better not go there.

So what book would I want to nominate?  I came up with a Joyce Carey, a Herman Hesse (foreign division?) and various others, but meanwhile a number have of course already been included in the comments list.  And then I thought I would nominate a writer that is in danger of never hitting that limelight, even if it is so well deserved.  Of course, Caroline Smailes ‘In Search of Adam’ which I gave a raving review not so long ago.   See also my recommended books.   But what happened?  Having submitted my nomination, it did not  show at first and then suddenly it appeared in its second format twice!  Anyway, it’s there now.

If you want to have a peak at this, the site to visit is  (and post your own comments).


  1. A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor is something I’ll have to re-discover. So I’ll nominate this one. It’s on my pile.

    How about The Robe by Lloyd Douglas?
    Maurice, by E.M. Forster.

  2. Flannery O’Connor has been nominated by several others, and I must go and read these. I have E.M. Foster on my shelf to read…. some time… when?

  3. Thank you – I am pleased that you’d think of me, but I do find the subject totally depressing. All that work and effort to be lost … sigh.

  4. Caroline- this was meant to cheer you up – not to get you depressed! Better not go that way… And after all, there are some really big names on that list.. does that help?

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