Just in time to help with any festive gift-giving, here’s a bumper Unsung Letter, highlighting the contributors of this year, and letting you know what they’ve been up to since their letters were published. The spirit of the letter itself is to highlight living writers with books you can read, so in the showcase you’ll find handy links to works and stories, along with plenty of seasonal gifs to make you feel cosy (even if outside it’s dismal. Or sunny)
Read the whole thing here (bring a warm beverage, it’s a long one)
Or sign up here for The Unsung Letter, a weekly missive on an underpraised book by a living author, written by a writer/book lover each time.
This week’s letter is from Aliya Whiteley, on a powerful book with a trauma at the centre, and what it has taught her about bravery in writing:
A ballet dancer – an evocative profession, with outward grace and inner strength, and connotations of control, of beauty – is abducted, chained, made into a sexual object. The dancer thinks, as time passes in a new reality:
Did I bring this upon myself? I flaunted my body. I invited attention through my profession. I wanted people to look at me.
This week, Naomi Frisby of the excellent The Writes of Woman gives her recommendation:
Recently, I’ve found myself championing experimental fiction written by women. There are two reasons for this: one, it’s a genre where I think women are producing the most interesting and innovative work and two, if you looked to mainstream coverage of experimental fiction written by women you might believe it begins and ends with Eimear McBride.
Why, I wonder, does experimental fiction by women go largely ignored?
Read the full letter here. Subscribe here for a weekly missive by a different writer on an underpraised book that deserves a wider audience than the quiet of the void. Stay tuned for a giant Christmas Unsung Letter in the coming weeks (once I get to it – it’s huge!)
Obligatory reminder in the run-up to the festive season – you can buy The Goldblum Variations for £5 here – it’s a collection of Jeff Goldblum stories. Perfect stocking filler/surprise placemat for the Jeff Goldblum appreciator in your life (or anyone who likes absurdist fun). Also if you’d like to get my novel Flesh of the Peach on its rapidly-dwindling print run, you can buy it here (worldwide free shipping) or from your local indie bookshop.
This week, Heather Parry brings us a book of negative spaces, nothingness, and arts funding:
There are a lot of things they don’t tell you when you become a Jobbing Writer. You know that you’re never going to be rich and that you’ll always have that chip on your shoulder about the myriad book deals that are seemingly flung at the famous—but they don’t tell you that 50% of your time will be spent waiting for a rejection and 50% of it will be writing proposals.
For the modern writer, trying to convince people to give you money is half the work. We consistently have to put forward our ideas, in the most artsy language possible, and make them seem interesting, worthwhile, and most of all, fundable.
Intrigued as to what the project might be? Read more here.
As ever, you can sign up to receive The Unsung Letter by email here – and I recommend you do. Each week, a different writer or book lover writes you an essay on a book they love which has not attracted enough attention for its brilliance.
This week, Emily Morris brings to our attention a children’s book worthy of adult readers:
I’m writing to tell you about a beautiful book I devoured in one devastating sitting. It’s a breathtakingly bleak little novel, with authentic characters, a vital message and deftly stark prose. And it’s likely to go unnoticed by the vast majority of adults, which is why I think it’s deserving of an Unsung Letter.
Read more here
Sign up to The Unsung Letter here – make sure you keep up to date with weekly, insightful, moving, and funny essays from different writers and book lovers on underpraised works by living authors. Guaranteed to boost your to-be-read pile with fresh excellence you might have otherwise missed.
This week, a meaningful book for a writer making a (slightly) later start:
I was in my 30’s and had never even let anyone read anything I’d written let alone had anything published and everywhere I looked were all these debut writers in their 20’s crushing it. I was not crushing it. I was being crushed.
And then I found [redacted] and her beautiful debut novel [redacted]. A first novel by a writer in her 30’s! I wanted to yell. I’m pretty sure I did a dance. It was like a little ray of light for me. A beacon of hope when I really felt like I’d not only missed the boat but my uber had taken me to the wrong port entirely.
Read more here. (The archive’s looking grand now, isn’t it?)
Sign up for The Unsung Letter for a weekly missive from a different writer/book lover on a beloved but underhyped book by a living author. It’s free and entirely optional (and why wouldn’t you want to discover new wonders you might have missed?)
This week’s Unsung Letter gets graphic with a Hollywood horror inspired double feature of graphic novels, presented by Ever Dundas:
Autumn is the time of year I gravitate towards comics, in large part because the comics I read are usually horror; they suit the shifting melancholy light, the smell of decay and burning wood, the early dusk. It’s been my autumn ritual to re-read the Charles Burns oeuvre ever since I first came across his work via Black Hole’s stunning art, brilliant depiction of messed up teendom, and lashings of body horror. Black Hole is Burns’ most famous, so I’m going to give a little love to one of his other comics [redacted]
Find out which graphic novels Dundas has picked here
Subscribe to The Unsung Letter here – for weekly missives of brilliant essays by writers and book lovers on underpraised works by living authors. Every week brings something new that you may not have heard of, but that might change your life (in some small literary way, or perhaps deliver a grand epiphany – why not find out?)