Chi sono i migliori scrittori inglesi?
Who are your favorite British authors? I have just finished reading “The Scapegoat” by Daphne du Maurier. Any others you could recommend?
“The Scapegoat” has been sadly overshadowed by “Rebecca,” Ms. du Maurier’s best-known novel, but I remember it being every bit as spooky. It was certainly the first time I had read about identity theft, though in this case, the victim decides to assume his thief’s identity, too.
After I acknowledged in an earlier column that I have Anglophilic literary tastes, several readers asked which British writers I liked best. I enjoy most of the usual suspects—Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith—but I also follow some who haven’t managed to straddle the Atlantic so successfully. I’d put the following novelists (with my favorite of their books in parentheses) in this category, although all of them have devoted readers in the U.S.: Jonathan Coe (“The Rotters’ Club”); Patrick McGrath (“Asylum”); Geoff Nicholson (“Bleeding London”); Sarah Waters (“Fingersmith”); and Hanif Kureishi (“The Buddha of Suburbia”).
Two years ago, when the Times of London ranked the top 50 post-war British writers, I was taken aback that I was entirely unfamiliar with several of them. At No. 18 was Mervyn Peake, a name I don’t believe I had ever heard. His Gormenghast trilogy, a Gothic fantasy set in an enormous castle with sinister towers and a Hall of Spiders, won prizes in England but received mixed reviews in the U.S. (one critic called it “pretentiously tedious”). At No. 24 on the list was Philippa Pearce, another name that drew a blank. She is best known for her children’s books, especially “Tom’s Midnight Garden.”
Meanwhile, where was David Lodge (“Small World”; “Nice Work”; “Changing Places”)? What about J.G. Farrell (the Empire trilogy) or William Boyd (“The New Confessions,” “Restless”) or Rose Tremain (“Restoration,” “Sacred Country”) or Barry Unsworth (“Land of Marvels,” “Sacred Hunger”)?
I’m keeping my eye on some other British novelists, including Salley Vickers, who trained as a psychoanalyst before becoming a writer and whose first novel, “Miss Garnet’s Angel,” was a surprise best seller in England; Maria McCann, a historical novelist whose “As Meat Loves Salt” is glorious; and David Peace, author of the Red Riding quartet, described by Publishers Weekly as “grim whodunit noir.”
—Send your questions about books and reading to Cynthia Crossen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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