1.An Underrated Style: Short Stories
I have noticed how scarce reviews of short stories are on WordPress.I was also quite surprised to see how little-known are the short stories of Fitzgerald,Tolstoy or even Lahiri; the public disregard them even if they come from established authors.I myself used to shrug off such stories,but ever since I read Borges,I’ve become infatuated with them.Contrary to general opinion,it takes much effort and talent to write a proper short story and some can have as strong an impact on the reader as larger works.
2.An Underrated Author#1: Jorge Luis Borges
Most bookworms who are into classics must have come across this quote of Borges once in their lifetime: ”I imagine paradise as a kind of library.” I hope he is right and wish to see him there one day.His literature is different from anything that has been written before; his stories are tokens of the unsuspected ability of our mind.The bottom line is, Borges is a god of literature.If you plan on reading Dostoevsky or Tolstoy in the future,then you imperatively have to include Borges in your list – his short stories are among the finest works you’ll ever read!
3.An Underrated Author#2: Joyce Carol Oates
Recently,whilst commenting on a post by Cathy,I realised how grossly underrated Joyce Carol Oates is.I often see her name in the list of the greatest living authors,yet never bothered to check any of her books.I found that I am not the only one who hasn’t read anything by her,so I guess we should resolve to read her books some day,at least before she passes away.
4.An Underrated Literature: African Literature
I was one of the many people who disregarded African literature books,thinking that they would be very dull and archaic.But I realised I was grossly prejudiced when I read Things Fall Apart.Achebe’s command of the English language is remarkable and his narration of the book is flawless,so much so that his book has become one of my favourites.Reading Achebe’s first novel was such a great experience that I plan on reading more African books in the future!
5.An Underrated Novel #1: Of Human Bondage
This book caught my eye during a sale held by the Folio Society.I checked out the blurb and saw it was perfect for me; I was looking for a book that would make me ‘grow’ and following Philip Carey’s chaotic life from 5 to 30 entirely fitted my purpose.The novel started quite slowly,but it gradually turned into a great read.I have learnt a lot from this book,so I wonder why it is so rarely reviewed on blogs,especially when it is the great Maugham’s Magnum Opus.Maybe it’s because it is so big.
6.An Underrated Novel #2: The God of Small Things
As is often the case with Booker nominees and winners,this book enjoyed a stint of popularity after its coronation as the Booker of 1997 and even became a best-seller for 1 year or two.Gradually it slipped into anonymity.What can I say about this gem? It is the book that got me back to reading.I read it 5 times for my HSC exams and it never failed to move me.Besides the superb plot,Arundhati Roy’s writing is a delight to read.I heard that she is finally writing a second novel and hope this rumour is true.For those who haven’t read it yet,I heartily recommend this masterpiece to them!
7.An Underrated Novel #3: Possession
Some weeks before I started reading Possession,I saw some people lambasting the book; just see the ‘1-star’ reviews it got on goodreads.I had some difficulty getting into the book at first and was really wondering how I would ever finish it.But very soon,the storyline captivated me and I was very much impressed by A.S Byatt’s efforts to write a novel of such magnitude.Her book will certainly go down as one of the best in history and I reckon that it is one such as many great authors could only dream of.Although not so underrated as the other books aforementioned,I still believe that many people fail to appreciate the depth and beauty of Possession – by skipping the poems and letters,for example – and thus unjustly criticize it.
8.An Underrated Novel #4: The Unbearable Lightness of Being
This book is best known for its title,which is often contrived by bloggers and journalists alike into an apt title for their articles.It is such a shame that people do not bother to know what is inside that book.In fact it is not so much a work of fiction as a conversation with Kundera.The Czech author’s voice is often heard in this book and he teaches us a myriad of things by giving us a different outlook on life.The book really comprises a wealth of knowledge and is certainly one of those reads that have shaped my life.The teachings are really unforgettable and if you want to ‘grow up’,then go for The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
9.An Underrated Non-Fiction Book: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
The title caught my eye in a Folio sale and since it was being sold at half price,I picked it up.The book went far beyond my expectations.Oliver Sacks’ narrative is very easy to understand and each case in this book had an air of a short story.It opened my eyes on the power of the brain and there were some illnesses which I didn’t even know existed.Sacks gives us a different view on the mentally disabled,such as when, in the case of an autist,he says that while no man is an island,an autist,to some extent,is.It is typically the kind of book which turns you into a different person.Sadly it is barely known to the young audience.If you’re fond of watching documentaries about extraordinary things,then this book is for you.
10.An Underrated Play: Waiting for Godot
This is an absolute tour-de-force in my opinion.You really have to be an immense playwright to mount a succesful play of such absurdism and with so few characters.For me,this play marked the beginning of contemporary art in plays; it is a far cry from what the audience has seen before,yet is still as remarkable.I liked the long periods of silence and even the lack of meaning in certain ‘scenes’.Also there are some lines which are very powerful – ”We lost our rights? …. We got rid of them.” I think people fail to appreciate the genius of Beckett because they obstinately wish to find meaning in everything and,above all,put a face on Godot; they do not realise that Waiting for Godot was meant to be absurd.