In the U.S., the female presence among novelists worthy of reading and rereading is less vigorous. We have Cynthia Ozick and Marilynne Robinson, and ranging backwards in time we can claim Eudora Welty, Janet Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, Willa Cather and Edith Wharton, who are outnumbered by the eminently rereadable female American poets in the same cattle call. Nige poses an interesting question:
“I've been trying to make a list of 20th-century male English novelists whom I'd regard as underrated, neglected or worthy of rediscovery, and frankly I'm not getting very far... Has anyone got any suggestions?”
I assume we’re not judging Wodehouse, Waugh and Powell as “underrated, neglected or worthy of rediscovery.” Without having to think about it I would nominate Henry Green, whose novels and autobiography I’m reading yet again. And Ford Madox Ford, beyond The Good Soldier. What about the pre-Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess? Or G.K. Chesterton for The Man Who Was Thursday? Kipling barely squeaks into the last century with Kim, not to mention his stories. And V.S. Pritchett for Mr. Beluncle, not to mention his stories. Early and mid-career Naipaul? What a motley collection, and how incomplete it looks when we leave out the Irish. And what a ridiculous way to think of literature. Read the books, not the writers.