A Month of ‘Being Very British’; Guest Editing Fiction Uncovered…

Many of you will know that for the last few years I have often mentioned and supported one of my favourite initiatives Fiction Uncovered, now the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, which celebrates slightly lesser known British authors who might not have been featured as much as they should have been by reviewers but most importantly might have been missed by book lovers all over the place. Each year eight titles are chosen and from the ones I have read so far they are marvellous. What is not to love about that?

Now this year the titles haven’t been named yet, what is quite exciting though is that in the lead up to the announcement (and I assume during) they are having some guest editors on their website to talk about the wonders of British literature, in a non xenophobic way I hasten to add, and the first one is ME. Yes, me, I know. I am beyond excited and you can see it is true here. So I thought for the rest of the month as I discuss British books and authors there, I should really do the same here shouldn’t I? So that is the plan for the rest of April.

I don’t really like rules so there are none. I will say that I would rather read some lesser known novelists, new and old, or new-to-me authors.

So bearing that in mind I have lined up some books which fit that ever so slightly vague brief, though they are actually all modern, I will hunt down some classics, and which I plan to read over the next month and they are…


The Canal – Lee Rourke
Landfall – Helen Gordon
Pig Iron – Benjamin Myers
A Modern Family – Socrates Adams
Everything I Found on the Beach – Cynan Jones
Rook – Jane Rusbridge

If you asked me why I have picked those specifically I couldn’t actually tell you. They are all authors I have been recommended to read at some point and have stayed in my mind since. I am really looking forward to giving them a try though, which is the most important thing.

I am sure some of you will have read some of the above authors and these books, do let me know if you have. I would also really love to know your favourite British authors both the famous/well known ones but also the ones who have maybe gone unfairly under the radar.


Filed under Fiction Uncovered, Random Savidgeness

4 responses to “A Month of ‘Being Very British’; Guest Editing Fiction Uncovered…

  1. I regret I haven’t read any of these authors. However I have read and reviewed 2 books by UK authors recently. One fiction and one nonfiction. Sue

  2. Ruthiella

    I haven’t read any books from the stack, but didn’t The Canal win the Not the Booker prize a couple of years ago? Also, Rook sounded familiar so I googled and see that Litlove reviewed it last year.

    Hmm, underrated British writer? I don’t know if she is underrated, but she only has two books under her belt (thus far). If you have the chance, try Alys, Always by Harriet Lane, which was her debut. I thought it was brilliant.

    Oh, or maybe Scarlett Thomas. She writes books that one really either gets or doesn’t get…no middle of the road. I always find her novels to be thought provoking.

  3. David

    I’ve read two of those authors, Simon – Cynan Jones’s ‘The Dig’ (not the book you’ve got there I know) is absolutely brutal but contains some of the most memorable and poetic writing I’ve read in ages. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it pop up on a prize list or two this year.
    Jane Rusbridge’s ‘Rook’ is decent enough and worth a read but one of those books that the world wouldn’t have been any poorer without – I wouldn’t call her underrated as such.

    Which British authors do I think are underrated?
    – Susan Fletcher is one of my favourite contemporary British writers. I know she had a brief moment in the spotlight with her first novel which won a Whitbread award but since then I think she’s been seen as more of a ‘popular’ writer than a ‘literary’ one (possibly due to the subjects she chooses or perhaps the way Fourth Estate package her novels) which seems a shame as her writing is gorgeous.
    – Jonathan Buckley writes one cracking novel after another yet seems to get very little attention. Read ‘Nostalgia’ (2013) for an idea of how good he can be – an odd cabinet of curiosities of a novel that was ten times better than some of the books that made the Booker longlist.
    – Simon van Booy is to my mind one of the best prose stylists of his generation; his novels and short stories are exquisite, lyrical masterpieces that deserve to be hailed as modern classics and it baffles me that so few people seem to read him.
    Who else? Janet Davey certainly seems to be underrated. William Riviere hasn’t written anything for a few years but never seemed to get the acclaim he deserved. I’d also say Melvyn Bragg oddly enough – obviously his books get attention, but I think he is underrated as a novelist by many readers of literary fiction who dismiss him because he’s “off the telly”, even though he was writing fiction long before The South Bank Show. I haven’t read enough of his work to know if it is all worthwhile (certainly ‘Credo’ and a couple of others have a reputation as being a bit rubbish) but his recent semi-autobiographical quartet of books that began with ‘The Soldier’s Return’ are as good as anything I’ve ever read about post-war England.

  4. Cynan Jones! Like David I read the brutal and gorgeous The Dig earlier this year and thought it was a debut. I couldn’t believe it when I realised he had previous novels that I’d never heard of. I have Everything I Found on the Beach in my TBR pile too, so maybe I’ll scoot it up to the top and read along with you. 🙂

    I also second David on Susan Fletcher. She’s a great prose stylist but seems to get marketed as light historical women’s fiction. Another of my favourite writers is Naomi Alderman. She won the Orange Prize for New Writers, in 2006 I think, and I feel as though she should be far more well known.

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