Sullivan Free Library's Blog

June 16, 2010

Hidden Gems

I often wonder at the way  some writers become bestselling authors when others with equal or greater talent do not.   As with the field of acting, much of it is likely due to chance –making the right contacts, catching the attention of the right talk show host or getting on the book discussion circuit.

Here are a few novelists  that I consider to be underrated and deserving of wider readership:

Paul Torday:  is a  British novelist who is best known for his  satire “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” (2006),  a hilarious look at British bureaucracy  and what can be accomplished when enough money is behind a project, no matter how far-fetched that project might be.   He has also written three other novels, which are not satires, but each compelling in its own right. The title of his second book,  “The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce” (2008) was changed to “Bordeaux” when published in the US and is the psychological study of a man who falls under the spell of a large collection of wine of questionable quality.  “The Girl on the Landing” (2009) is another psychological study.  His most recent novel, “The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers” (2010) is a compelling look at the disparity between social classes, set among the recent crash of financial markets around the world.

Andrea Barrett is an American writer of short stories and fiction who has won numerous awards, including the National Book Award in 1996 for her collection of short fiction titled:  “Ship Fever”.  She writes historical fiction with strong female characters.  Her 2007 novel “The Air We Breathe” is set in the Adirondacks in the early 1900’s when the area was widely known for sanitariums for curing tuberculosis.

Stephen McCauley is the author of “The Object of My Affection” upon which the movie of the same title (starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd) is based.  He is also the author of five other novels, most recently, “Insignificant Others”.  His novels fit the description of “comedy of manners” in which the author satirizes the manners and affectations of a social class, in McCauley’s case, gay men.   He engages the reader in the ordinary lives of his characters and makes us all take a closer look at why we behave the way we do.

Joe Coomer:  I’ve always been intrigued by books with unusual titles, and discovered Joe Coomer by the title of his second  novel “Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God”, the story of three unlikely roommates living on a houseboat. He has written several other novels including “The Loop”, “Apologizing to Dogs” (2001)  “One Vacant Chair”(2003) and “A Pocketful of Names” (2005) and several  books of non-fiction, including an account of his sailing experiences “Sailing in a Spoonful of Water” (1997)

Tim Farrington has written a number of novels, including “The Monk Downstairs” (2006) and “The Monk Upstairs” (2008) about a priest who gives up his vocation and rents the downstairs apartment rented out by a single mother looking to supplement her household income.  “Lizzie’s War” (2005) is about the wife of a soldier serving during the Vietnam war, trying to cope on her own with a family and the growing protests about the war.

If you are looking for a different author  to read, try one of these hidden gems.  All of the titles mentioned here are available through the MidYork Library System.   Post your feedback here!



  1. Great post really informative thanks 🙂

    Comment by mrtaurus — June 24, 2010 @ 4:35 pm | Reply

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