This weeks question for the Literary Blog Hop over at The Blue Bookcase is this:
What literary title (fiction or non-fiction) do you love that has been
under-appreciated? We all know about the latest Dan Brown, and James
Patterson isn't hurting for publicity. What quiet masterpiece do you
want more readers to know?
I had a few initial impulses on this one, but decided to settle on Graham Swift's incredible, Waterland. As you can see by the fact that this novel won the Booker, it isn't exactly entirely under-appreciated. However, I do feel it is neglected in the blogosphere. It is hands down, one of my favorite novels, and I would recommend it for fans of Steinbeck's East of Eden or Eugenides, Middlesex, in particular.
Like the aforementioned novels, Waterland, is an epic (but not super long) history of an East Anglian family. The story spans for over 200 years, but the anchor is the narrator, history teacher Tom Crick. The back cover of the book claims that it "takes in eels and incest, ale-making and madness, the heartless sweep of history and a family romance as tormented as any in Greek tragedy." It is a dark book, with Gothic elements, but also unforgettable and sympathetic characters. The bleak Fenlands, where the novel takes place, are also a potent character throughout.
Thematically, the novel explores the meaning of history and how we write it as well as the role of production and reproduction as often opposing, driving forces. It examines the masculine and the feminine and differing modes of storytelling. I read this book in a 20th century British literature class and I was totally captured. I couldn't put it down, and I couldn't wait to write about it. I would definitely recommend it, and although it has received some attention, I think it deserves more.
This is a great topic this week. I'm looking forward to some exciting recommendations from my fellow hoppers.