The OF Blog: SF Signal article on Underrated Authors and my own picks

Thursday, April 24, 2008

SF Signal article on Underrated Authors and my own picks

SF Signal has an interesting Mind Meld piece today where industry people give their selections as to which authors, living and dead alike, deserve more praise. So without (consciously) cribbing off of theirs, here are a few that I'd add to that list, even if some might be barely genre at all:

Edward Whittemore (Quin's Shanghai Circus; The Jerusalem Quartet) - American author never sold more than 10K first edition copies of any of his releases and yet 13 years after his death in 1995, his work still resonates with those fortunate few who have sought out his work. Of course, since there are some in the genre who laud him quite a bit, perhaps this is more of a selection for the casual reader to consider.

Richard Parks (short fiction writer) - While I know he's won a few awards for his short stories, I just don't hear his name mentioned often enough. I loved his 2007 collection Worshiping Small Gods, thinking it was the best single-author collection that I read last year and I believe he deserves a bit more consideration.

Milorad Pavić (The Dictionary of the Khazars; other novels) -This Serbian author never tells the same tale twice, nor does he have his books appear in the same format either, as he utilizes various formats (dictionary, tarot cards, etc.) to make the book itself part of the story. Very inventive, but yet gets barely any mentions these days in genre circles.

Han Shaogong (A Dictionary of Macqiao) - Chinese writer who, like Pavić, uses a dictionary/encyclopedia format to tell of a place in which one's very understanding of time and place in rural China depended upon how words were used. Very moving story told within and behind these "entries."

Angélica Gorodischer (Kalpa Imperial) - Argentine writer whose imagined empire contains such a depth of human emotion that it took another writer with a similar range of interests/stories, Ursula Le Guin, to translate this moving series of tales into English so at least a few more people could read it.

Juan Rulfo (Pedro Páramo y El llano en llamas) - Mexican writer of the 1950s whose hallucinogenic first novel contained the germ of the realismo mágico style that became so popular in Latin America and then later in other parts of the world in the 1960s and 1970s. But yet Rulfo never gets the acclaim that a García Márquez or a Fuentes receives.

For once, I'll stop at an even number and let people comment on these and/or add their own to this list. After all, the more an author's name is spoken, the less likely his/her works will fade permanently into obscurity.


Liviu said...

I have a full set of Mr. Whittemore books in the nice Old Earth tpb reprint of 2002 and they are some of my favorite non-genre books, especially Quin's Shanghai Circus and the first 2 Tapestry books.

I have Kalpa Imperial too since publication, though I have skimmed it only - I am sure I will read it at some point

I have checked out Pavic - since I quite like Zoran Zivkovic and Pavic was recommended alongside - but never warmed enough to his books though I may check them sometime since my opinions change in time.

In sf the one author that should be mentioned in the top ranks of the genre always is Adam Roberts. I am not sure there is an author who is writing so varied sf tales, no repeats, no sequels. Stone, Splinter, Land of the Headless, On, Swiftly and even Gradisil are among my favorites.

Maurice Dantec is also a very, very interesting author - only one, and soon another of his novels are translated into English, but if you read French he is always provocative and entertaining.

Recently, I found a British author, Andrew Crumey who has 6 novels, not quite sf, not quite historical, not quite...I bought the first 4 books and really enjoyed two and I expect to enjoy the other two soon, and of course ordered the two newer ones. I saw some mixed opinions in genre blogs, but if you like Borges or Calvino, or for that matter speculations about the nature of things, it's worth giving him a try.

Lsrry said...

I almost added Roberts to that list, since the only book of his that I read, Salt, I greatly enjoyed. But since he's rather visible on SH and a few other places, I desisted. Will look into the Dantec and the Crumey in the near future, as their titles sound very interesting!

Lotesse said...

While Pavic is not so popular around the whole world, in Serbia he is quoted often, even in the schools. Maybe because he spends more time writing reviews of others than writing new books, I don't know, but it is still nice to see him not being forgotten totally.

Anonymous said...

Good picks! (better than most of those on SF Signal, to be honest...). I have Pavic (Landscape Painted With Tea) and Whittemore (Sinai Tapestry) on my TBR, and will be sure to look up your other suggestions.

Will have to go away and think what my choices would be. :-)

Lsrry said...

May, I know that many of the non-Anglo-American authors that I chose are quite popular in their regions, but I was thinking from an Anglo-American perspective, since that seemed to be what was implied by that roundtable discussion. And so, how is Pavić viewed by Serbian students, if I may ask? ;)

Nic, glad you enjoyed that list, as I really enjoyed the Whittemore and I'll be receiving Landscape Painted With Tea in the mail next week.

Lotesse said...

Yes, I know, I just thought I'd add that little piece of information. ;)

Well, they don't like the idea of being obliged to know every single word he said about something that was written hundreds of years ago for a passing mark. ;)

Lsrry said...

What student ever does? :P At least he's still alive and speaking a language that at least half of y'all would understand - I have students complaining that Poe is too difficult for them!

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