Novels not on my radar

When we hear of winners, or the shorlisted we know many of the writers referred to. When I read this list of The Man Asian shortlist, none of them meant anything to me. Maybe worth finding out about.


Goat Days – Benyamin (India)

Between Clay and Dust - Musharraf Ali Farooqi (Pakistan)

Another Country - Anjali Joseph (India)

The Briefcase – Hiromi Kawakami (Japan)

Thinner Than Skin - Uzma Aslam Khan (Pakistan)

Ru - Kim Thúy (Vietnam / Canada*)

Black Flower - Young-Ha Kim (South Korea)

Island of a Thousand Mirrors - Nayomi Munaweera (Sri Lanka)

Silent House - Orhan Pamuk (Turkey)

Honour - Elif Shafak (Turkey)

Northern Girls - Sheng Keyi (China)

The Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng (Malaysia)

The Road To Urbino – Roma Tearne (Sri Lanka / U.K.*)

Narcopolis - Jeet Thayil (India)

The Bathing Women – Tie Ning (China)

Silly me too, got carried away by the idea and forgot to remember and I'm not a new member, ouch!

Great Chris. I'll try both of those from Pamuk now. The Silent House reviews are good.

Le soleil des Scorta by Laurent Gaudé is on my little stack of 'to be reads'. It will be my first by him.

Good idea about the reviews. If books have been recently translated or are in the pipeline for English (perhaps also French) publication, then why not from other languages too. My wife and I get books from friends in Spanish South America and tend to read them about two years before translations appear. Some are fantastic, ditto contemporary German writers. My OH's mother tongue is Italian too, so she reads a few and I have a vague go at the occasional one, again great stuff. Other people have other languages. The condition might be that it is something in 'Top Five' perhaps which usually ensures translation. Like adding Pamuk now, I have a list of books I wish to read that grows faster than I ever read them but reviews from mere mortals rather than godlike reviewers may be of great use.

silly me -it already exists as Bookworms! Ah,the innocence of the new member!!

Talking of unknown novels,could we expand this Group to swap reviews of good reads? I'm always looking for new authors to enjoy. I'd particularly like to know more about contemporary French writers. I have recently read and would recommend:


Stephen Hunt - The Court of the Air [bizarre fantasy adventure]

Michael Wright - Je t'aime à la Folie [bucolic love story set in Perigord,much better written than most French feel-good books]

Aidan Hartley - The Zanzibar chest [Memoir set in East Africa and Yemen by the Times international correspondent - gripping and heart-rending]

Marina Lewycka - Two Caravans [quirky and funny insight into the lives of East European guest workers in England]

for a really light read,the crime novels of Louise Penny set in Quebec

[English or French:]

Irène Nemirowsky - Suite Française [one of finest books ever written about occupied France]

the crime novels of Fred Vargas with her wonderfully eccentric police Commissioner Adamsberg.


Daniel Pennac - Au bonheur des ogres [hilarious novel set in Parisian dept store]. He's written several other novels, not translated into English,but his French is very accessible.

Laurent Gaudé - Eldorado [poignant story of African emigrés trying to reach Europe by boat to Italy]

Orlan Pamuk is the only author there I know. Haven't read Silent House, but his Snow is a brilliant novel.

Yes that's funny and ironic that often granny's pickles are often the best :-)

Getting on to people's radars is one of the most difficult things to do, I wrote on my blog recently about some ways it can be done. These methods aren't everyone's cup of tea and as usual each and every way takes time and effort. But then doesn't everything?

I liked the tin of beans analogy by the way, because that is the way it should be viewed and unless you are a Heinz best seller, you are going to have to work hard at getting your tin off the shelf. :-)

The book pricing thing is irksome. Retail price maintenance on books does not tend to stimulate the market, so foreign books tend to be cheap tat in order to sell. I buy books from Chapitre who do have offers, at present there is an atlas plus three books at €99 instead of the normal €250. They will revert to that once the offer is over. But you have to keep an eye out. Their English selection is not bad and the prices pretty good, bearing in mind you buy a couple and no postage, it is possible to come out better than Amazon. I've scored there twice by filling both trolleys and seeing which one saved me a few bob. Amazon was cancelled. Unlike Amazon they will get a book for you as well, it may cost a bit but...

As for the publications page idea, as with Kerry and now Roger Boaden, it could be a forum for reviews too, a place to find reviewers and to place the reviews. In my case I'd be more inclined to offer my fat tome to Mrs H in case one of James' tables has a very wobbly leg...

As implied in my earlier rant, people won’t pay their worth for books either; at least British readers won’t. I heard a woman from my wife’s reading group,say, ‘And it’s only £3.99 from Amazon’, as if the price were the most important item. Recently at the literary festival here we sold books. The English largely ignored the UK, even the Helen Dunmore because they knew they could get them cheaper on Amazon, but we were selling books by French authors at between 15 & 28€. As I understand it, the law doesn’t allow you to do three for two in France. And before you ask, if I see a book I want, I buy it, regardless of the price. I recently spent 14€ on a book about the Hundred Years War (bought in Belgium) and £15 on The Lady in the Tower (Anne Boleyn) from Waterstones in Cardiff. ( A superb book about whom I consider to be one of the most underrated women in history - but that’s another discussion.)
And yes, Catharine, I agree with Brian, if it were possible to provide a link, because we are discussing matters here that would be of interest to writers etc.

That might be the easy bit Garry. It is occasionally harder to buy their books. Amazon carry fairly immense lists but not everything and it sometimes irks me that given time and effort goes into translating books into whichever languages, we cannot then find them easily. It takes time and effort to find the publisher unless (for instance) a review is comprehensive and includes that. Even then, not all of them do direct sales and there is a hop and skip to the distributor who sells it. Perhaps people who really seriously read are willing, but Joe and Josephine Public who make books best sellers wish to see, pick up and buy - whether shelf or electronic.

Catharine has a good idea and Glyn is right about the hitch. But if the publications page was linked to both then surely it would work. I'll volunteer my forthcoming under the 'sleep inducing' category ;-)

I guess the point is... to find out who they are, and give them a try out.

Good old Wiki might help you with the style and subject matter of each writer, and from there, choose the one that interest you the most.

I was t

I think there is bound to be crossover between Writers and Bookworms. If you had a 'publications by SFN Members' it might take away from Writers.

You are correct Brian. But whilst the uniformed public continue to go out and buy such books as Rowlings Casual Vacancy and the BBC televise it then there is no hope. Generally speaking the man on the Clapham onmibus is dim. He simply wants to be entertained with crass books and television programmes. Why watch the X Factor when there is Bach to listen to? He might watch all the food programmes on offer, but does he cook? No, fast food and takeaways. Until the government actually takes the arts seriously, does not allow discounts on books, removes sub-standard newspapers and magazines from sale, takes proper charge of television and only allow programmes that are educational and cultural then there will be no improvement. But perhaps it is all about control; the governments don't want a thinking man.

It is a professional area of interest I have worked for the UN on, began it at Cambridge decades ago, taught for five years in Swansea until coming here and so for me it's all in a day's (bit of a long day though) work! The subject matter is real insider stuff for children's rights specialists. Kerry, no not culture and religion, they are EASY, I am anthropologist and we start that as undergrads, but philosophy and theology and they are hard work, really. Never again, the latter really never and philosophy in small doses - makes the mind go into overdrive.

But really the point is that writing, and all forms of writing given that I know journalists, fiction writers, poets and others doing a variety of types of written stuff, is a job. It is the most poorly paid and in a way overrated job. The latter I mean in the sense that one says "I write books, articles..." and the response is that whoever says it has an easy life. Lazy layabouts with lots of gin and tonics who amble over to the keyboard and write six words, throw a tantrum because it is not good enough and then wipe it. It is a nasty caricature. Even those overrated best selling people tend to work hard. There are exceptions, the most talented poet I know does a lot of swanning around, lamenting and producing little. On the other hand others work 10 and 12 hour days, seven days a week. They write a book in rough in a few weeks, then they rework it until it is presentable for months on end. They check references, quotes, geographical references and all other fine detail to get them right, so research often fills weeks or months. That is what detractors do not know and why I feel so depressed when I see the same old names and faces in the award listings.

Maybe we need an SFN publications page....or rather publications by SFN members...

Well, Brian. I don't know what to say. I thought non-fiction, the history of such and such. This is an original idea for a book though. When I'm reading, I read one fiction and one non-fiction. Put me down for a copy of this, I've never read a book about this subject matter. Keep us updated. Here and/or on writers, translators and bloggers. There's bound to be overlap and as long as healthy discussion is taking place I'm sure James and Catharine won't object.


My forthcoming book is: The History and Theory of Children’s Citizenship in Contemporary Societies, Springer Academic.

In short, it examines the notion of children having full citizenship. It does so historically, through intellectual discourse, beliefs, and moral and ideological positions on children. It looks at the status and extent of knowledge of the position of children covering about 2500 years. The book takes European and other cultures, traditions and beliefs into consideration. It reflects on the topic from a variety of disciplines, including social sciences, theology and philosophy.

It places children’s citizenship in the centre of children’s rights discourse. Part of the work is a critical appraisal of ‘children’s participation’ which is not what it is always proclaimed to be since it diverts attention away from children as members of society toward being a separable group. The book moves on from child participation using a children’s rights based argument toward examination of the relationship of the child with the state; i.e. as potentially full member citizens. ​

Make sense of that if you can! About 320,000 words at that...

I cannot cite or give extracts and solicit reviews until publication, contracts being as they are with big publishing houses.

Very interesting, Brian. I recently worked out what I’ve earned from writing over the last two years. About £2 per month. That doesn’t take in to account any expenses, electricity, petrol to get to a signing, printing ink, paper; I’m sure there are more.
Brian do please give us more details about your book. There are plenty of fiction writers out there but not many who will do the real grind of non-fiction. I would love to write a book about the Tudors, but the work would be too much.
I repeat though. Tell us about your book.