The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Underrated Writers of 2006

Posted on: December 20, 2006

This is the 2nd year of the Underrated Writers Project (via Pinky Paperhaus). I admit that I did not consciously seek out any on the list from last year. I plan to do better this year, carefully scribbling down (always scribbling) names, checking for books’ availabilities at libraries and Chapters.

Here are the authors who caught my eye (this being wholly dependent on the bloggers’ descriptions):

Eileen Chang – I’ve mentioned her on my blog before. I first read about her in a NYRB issue and have seen her name popping up on litblogs ever since.

Elizabeth Ellen – I liked that, according to Wickett, she wrote about “fucked up relationships”–I don’t read enough authors who write about such things in the way Wickett’s description of her work implies. Curious, I read her poem at 3AM. Raucous, fearless and wicked. I dug it. I bookmarked her homepage as her first chapbook should be released soon.

Marc Estrin – Scott Esposito compared Estrin’s Golem Song to The Immoralist in his review of the latter. I had not scribbled his name down at the time so I’m glad Eposito recommended him here.

Michael Martone – Another Esposito recommendation. Martone’s latest was a LBC pick but I was not intrigued. Esposito’s posts on his own blog about The Blue Guide to Indiana had the opposite effect.

Steve Erickson – Achingly beautiful prose, surreal story lines and experimental narrative that resists being overly clever–what’s not to like?

Lance Olsen – Aha! Are you noting a trend? I am inclined to go with Conversational Reading selections. Olsen’s works intrigue me because Esposito describes them as a mix of the experimental with familiar story telling conventions. Maybe Olsen’s style will work with me.

Brian Evenson – Who could resist the kind of praise Evenson’s work received in that post?

Jeff VanderMeer – I have seen his name tossed about but it was not until I read Bond’s recommendation of his Shriek on her blog that I decided to walk down the street to make a purchase.

Authors with whose works I am already familiar (for eg. through ownership even if I have not actually read them yet, a fine distinction)

Jeffrey Ford, Elizabeth Crane, Laird Hunt, Richard Powers

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4 Responses to "Underrated Writers of 2006"

Maybe it’s not accurate to describe Eileen Chang as an “underrated” or even “unknown” writer, since most of her books are published in Chinese, and she well established among Chinese literature readers.

Not sure what terms would be more appropriate, but she has been around for a while, just maybe not among English readers.

My 2-cents.

Well, yes, but the bloggers are primarily speaking from a North American context and which writers are underrated and unknown here. On the list there are authors who are quite popular in England, but are not given much review space in the USA/Canada; And a Nobel prize winner.

Thanks for commenting!

To my great shame, I’ve never heard of Eileen Chang, but from what I can see on Amazon, she seems to be pretty good. I’m going to look her out – thanks for tip!

You’re welcome Max. I had never heard of her until October either. As Dark Orpheus said she is a big name in Chinese letters but is not well-known here. The New York Review of Books did a new release of her short stories and hopefully that will get her more notice.

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