There is already a superb site devoted to neglected books and I have freely stolen from it. My intention on this page is to draw attention, as neglectedbooks.com does so well, to some books/authors I feel have been too much neglected. Of course, the question arises as to what is neglected. Take the case of William Faulkner, for example. No-one could say that he is neglected. He won the Nobel Prize. Most if not all of his books are in print, with all of his novels available through the very wonderful Library of America. But do people read him? Two of the largest and oldest book review websites - Danny Yee's Book Reviews and The Complete Review do not have a single one of his books under review. A browse around other blogs/literary websites shows a similar dearth of his books under review. Doubtless, some would argue that as his books were published so long ago or because of his fame, meaning that everyone has read him, it is not appropriate to review him. However, my own very crude researches indicate that, outside the South of the United States, where he is read, not many people from English-speaking countries do read him. (The French do, of course, read him.) So is he neglected? My answer is a qualified yes, as far too few people have read the man that I and others consider one of the finest twentieth century authors. The point of this is to show that the definition of what is neglected is not straightforward and could include a vast array of authors whose works are still in print and still read.
There are, of course, many, many neglected books, so I will limit my choices to those on this site (but I will not include Faulkner) and divide them into two categories. The first category will consist of several books originally written in English, which I feel have been too much neglected. I am treating books originally written in English separately, as I feel that most books originally written in a language other than English are already neglected, at least by English-speaking readers. The second list will consist of several books on this site which have not been translated into English and, in my opinion, should be. These lists will be amended now and then.
With all your Welshes and Kelmans and Grays, Friel has got a bit lost in the Scottish novel shuffle, which is a pity as this trilogy, though very realist, shows the grimy side of Glasgow, though it is not too grimy.
The youngest author on this site, with Gascoyne being only sixteen when he wrote it but is surprisingly mature. It is a poetical novel, telling the story of one day in the life of a young man who wants to write a novel about one day in his life. And here it is.
If I had to pick only one neglected novel, this could well be it. It gets on all sorts of neglected books list, particularly those chosen by writers themselves, but somehow never seems to make it out of the pack. Chekhov as written by an English novelist and the best English comic novel of the twentieth century.
It is not neglected in Australia but outside that country, relatively unknown. It is the most recent book in this list so things could change. A wonderful novel on technology and it beauty but also its challenges.
As with other novelists mentioned here, I could have selected any one of her books. I fail to see why she does not command the attention she desrves. Her novels are intelligent, original, imaginative and a joy to read. This is one of her best.
The only World War I novel in this list, though I could have added several more. It is here because it is obscure, very difficult to find and long out of print. It tells of the grim nature of war - death, gas, frost bite, continual shelling and the smell of death. He leaves you in no doubt that, in his view, war is definitely not glorious.
Williamson's reputation took a nosedive when he started supporting Hitler (Hitler has a cameo in this series) and recovered with his Tarka The Otter and other nature books, for which he is now remembered. But it is this chronicle that should cement his place as the great chronicler of rural England in the late nineteenth/twentieth century.
Books that should be translated into English - my list
Another Latin American writer who has slipped between the cracks as far as the English-speaking world is concerned, either because he does not do magic realism or because he is from a smaller country. This novel is about politics, particularly the corrupt politics of Uruguay but also with a knock at the USA, but also about father-son relationships and, as with most of his books, superbly written.
Algeria is, of course, another country that has produced many interesting novels, few of which have been translated into English. This is about the capture of Gibraltar, as seen through the eyes of a twentieth century namesake of the man responsible for the capture.
Several of Boullosa's novel have ben translated into English but none of the recent ones. This was published in 2009 and, like all her other works, should be translated. It is anarchic, inventive, post-modernist, hilarious fun and superbly written. To be fair, her use of language would cause a headache for any translator and it has not been translated into any other language.
The Sorbians are one of those many nations of the world who have got squeezed out of the world's consciousness (and conscience) but they still survive and, fortunately, still write. This one is a wonderful story, based on an old Sorbian myth but transposed to the modern world. As far as I am aware there is no modern Sorbian novel available in English.
Though a couple of his other novels have been translated into English, this one has not and covers favourite Latin American themes - Paris and the struggle between political commitment and artistic achievement.
It is amazing that none of Camín's novels has been translated into English. This novel, as far as I can determine, has not been translated into any other language. It is not your typical Latin American novel - no magic realism, for example - but it is a superb political novel about Mexico in the 1970s and one that should be read more widely.
What? Another Mexican novel? All sorts of exciting things are happening in the Mexican novel but, if you do not read Spanish, you would not know it. This is one of the most daringly original novels I have ever read and, as you can see from this site, I have read quite a few novels. It is a novel where a building has a key role to play (think House of Leaves) but it is a lot more than that. The author tells me that it has not been translated into any other language and that my review is the only review of it in English. How sad!
It is amazing that none of Chirbes' novels has been translated into English. He is one of the leading if not the leading contemporary Spanish novelist. He has been translated into other major European languages. His skill is dissecting current Spain, with all its problems. This is his latest but his earlier ones could also be here. This one has already been translated into German and Italian and will appear in French in January 2015.
A Mauritanian science fiction novel was never likely to be translated into English or, for that matter, any other language but Ebnou does a very creditable job of writing a novel in the Huxley et al. style and this work should be better known.
Not a great work of literature but certainly well written and well worth reading. One of her stories has been translated into English but, while this novel has been translated into other languages (including Chinese and Ukrainian), it has not been translated into English. Indeed it is hard to think of many Latvian novels that have been translated into English.
I could fill this page with Spanish-language novels that have not been translated into English. This is one example, a wonderful pastiche on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair. As I said in my review, You cannot imagine such a book being written by an English speaker.
I can see why this has not been translated. It is a massive (twelve-volume) Joycean masterpiece and just as difficult as Joyce, if not more so. But it is certainly a candidate for the Great Austrian novel.
Another novel included, at least in part, because it is from c country whose novels are unknown in the English-speaking world. This one is an interesting novel in itself but also is about the Rwandan genocide which of course, is known in the English-speaking world.
Portuguese novels rarely get translated into English, so it is no surprise this brilliant novel on male-female relationships has not. Whether you are male or female, you should read this but, unless you read German or Portuguese, you cannot.
Goytisolo's tetralogy is long so is unlikely to appear in English (or French or German, which are both more likely) but the Spanish consider it one of the great Spanish twentieth century novels and it is certainly a very fine, though quite difficult work.
Some of his books have been translated into English but though you can read this in Bosnian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, Hebrew, Polish, Russian and Spanish, you cannot read Hein's tale of the death Museum Director Horn, as seen from the perspective of the town, in English.
Many of Kadare's works have been translated into English, albeit via French, but this has not. It is very long and tells of the break between Albania and the Soviet Union but very well worth reading if you can read French or German or Spanish or Swedish.
He may have won the Nobel Prize but there are still key books of his not translated into English (though this book is available in German, Korean and Spanish). The story is of a group of immigrants to Mauritius, quarantined on an island off Mauritius and essentially left to their fate.
This is here as all too many contemporary Latin American novels do not get translated into English. It is a very fine novel set in 19th century Chile, involving a great Chilean tragedy, the painter Whistler and, of course, love.
As this is one of her later novels, it may well be translated into English in the future (as it has already been translated into French, German and Serbian), but I would not count on it. It is a superb evocation of childhood and a childhood world, not fantastical à la Peter Pan but very much in the real world.
Sadly, as far as I can determine, only one of Torrente Ballester's works has been translated into English which, considering his reputation in Spain, is a very poor showing. I could have nominated other works of his work but this one, considered one of the best twentieth century Spanish novels, a Joycean conspiracy theory novel, which also recalls Eco and García Márquez, is my favourite of his.
Another novel that has been translated into several languages but not into English, though there is a film version of the novel, with English subtitles. A love story set in medieval Bohemia, with brigands and a modernist outlook, what is not to like?
Consumed and Judged (This site is devoted to archiving brief accounts of odd and obscure books. My vow to you is to consume and pronounce judgment on a range of titles that in many cases have not been seen by human eyes for years, decades, perhaps even since the moment of their initial publication)