A lot of books out there get the recognition they deserve. A lot more don’t. So I made it my mission to sift through the internet to find a list of great books that no one knows about, and I came out successful!
Great Books No One Knows About
Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham
Did you know about the writer Gresham? The poor man committed suicide in 1962... which has nothing to do with the book’s content, but I thought it was a point still worth mentioning.
So, Stan Carlisle is working at a carnival, and he witnesses before him how someone, a “geek”, could fall so low just for a measly job. He vows he’ll never be that man, but fate has already planned something else for him.
Coin Locker Babies by Ryu Murakami
Ryu Murakami is wildly popular in Japan, which is actually America’s loss because the man is an excellent writer. Anyway, this 1980 novel has a cyberpunk setting, explores themes like surrealism, philosophy and social existence, and is sprinkled with a heavy dose of dark comedy. The story focuses on two babies born in coin lockers, the pressures and risks in being a pop star, and poison that turns humans into bloodthirsty killers buried in the ocean. Talk about great books no one knows about!
Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys
The book is about a woman and her journey through depression, loneliness and vulnerability as she lives her life between the two World Wars. The narrative is quite heavy and the readers are left feeling terribly glum for the leading lady. This may be the main reason why the book didn’t sell well nor did it go down well with the critics.
The Young Visiters by Daisy Ashford
Young Miss Ashford aspired to become a novelist ever since she was a child, which is why her first novel was written by the age of 9. But the book was soon forgotten and after almost 3 decades Ashford decided to pursue her dream. The book passed down many hands till it reached a novelist who revelled in reading amateur works. The book was a wild success and had to be sent for printing eighteen times during its time.
Our Sister Killjoy: or Reflections from a Black-Eyed Squint by Ama Ata Aidoo
The setting is post-independent Ghana and the protagonist Sissie, a young African woman, goes to Europe and the Western world in pursue of further studies. This is one of those great books no one knows about which focuses on a social critique of the Black and White middle class lives, the interactions between the two, and basically, a witty account of everything that the young lady goes through while living in a different part of the world.
The Little Virtues by Natalia Ginzburg
This Italian novelist, short-story writer, essayist and playwright is not very well known in the Western world, but don’t let that hold you back from exploring her work. About her book, Ginzburg remarked that children, the main focus of her works, should be made to learn about the bigger, not the smaller, virtues in life. So what exactly are these virtues?
The Diary of a Mad Old Man by Junichiro Tanizaki
It’s not every day that you come across a novel that has a 70-year-old man as its lead. Utsugi is a crazy old man who is left behind all his cravings for life – except sex. In that regard, this terminally ill man directs his sexual energy towards his daughter-in-law. And before you feel bad for the lady, know that she accepts money from him in order to let him play out his weird little fantasies and fetishes.
Divine Days by Leon Forrest
If you like War and Peace, you are sure to like Divine Days as well. It is regaled as one of the most significant works of African American fiction. Taking place of a period of 7 days, the novel follows aspiring playwright Joubert Jones who struggles to pay his bills while working at a bar. With the Black-American culture raising its head time and again in the background, this book is littered with Shakespearean characters that give its readers a fresh perspective about the identity and life of a Black man. Definitely add this to your list of great books no one knows about.
Cosmos by Witold Gombrowicz
What can a little sparrow do to you? This question is answered in the Polish author’s novel. Two young men from Warsaw come across a dead sparrow which was murdered by a human being and strung on a tree as display. This kicks off the two on a journey of discovery which is full of questionable decisions that they make in their effort to find the killer.
The Box Man by Kobo Abe
A man who shall forever be nameless decides to spend his life in a box with a peephole in it, from which he can observe the world without affecting it in any way. If surrealism is what you crave for, then this novel is a must read.
The Reef by Edith Wharton
Even though the setting of the novel is rural Paris, its characters are primarily American. The novel follows the stories of 4 American couples in love and how their stories are connected with each others’. What’s remarkable is how Wharton considered this novel – she said it was “a poor miserable lifeless lump”, despite the fact that it becomes a massive success!
Fiskadoro by Denis Johnson
Deeply moving and provocative, Johnson’s story is about a young teenage boy and his clarinet teacher, who are living in a post apocalyptic future. Every day is a struggle for them, and they try everything to salvage whatever shred of culture and history they can in order to preserve the world that they once knew. This is one of those post apocalypse great books no one knows about, which you will absolutely enjoy reading.