Posts Tagged ‘Karin Boye’

More Fiction Writers Who Were Too Good to be Forgotten

Last June I wrote an article about six less well-known fiction writers who wrote some mighty fine fiction.  However there are others who I would like to mention who were just too good to be forgotten, so here is a second list.


Sybille Bedford – She is considered an English writer, but she was originally from Germany and lived for a time in France and the United States.  With the help of Aldous Huxley and his wife and a sham marriage, she was able to escape France before Hitler got there.  She wrote non-fiction travel writings as well as four novels of which I have read all of them.  Perhaps she is most famous for ‘A Legacy’ and ‘Jigsaw – An Unsentimental Education’.   I have no doubts that Bedford will still be read a hundred years from now.





Nelson Algren – He wrote of the “drunks, pimps, prostitutes, freaks, drug addicts, prize fighters, corrupt politicians, and hoodlums” mostly in his hometown of Chicago.  He still is a controversial figure. He was the first major American figure to speak out against Joe McCarthy.  Algren did have his sensitive side; he had a long relationship with famous feminist Simone de Beauvoir and is portrayed in Beauvoir’s novel ‘The Mandarins’.  He wrote of the wild gritty side of life with a tough honesty. The three novels of his that stand out for me are ‘Never Come Morning’, ‘The Man with the Golden Arm’, and ‘A Walk on the Wild Side’.



Maeve Brennan – She was the Long-Winded Lady at the New Yorker from 1954 to 1968 and made sardonic observations about New York City life.  After that she was in and out of institutions treating her for mental illness and alcoholism.  Thus she does not have a long bibliography.   Her book of short stories ‘The Springs of Affection’ and short novel ‘The Visitor’ are both fine works.

“Many men and women found Maeve charming, and she was a true friend, but there wasn’t much you could do to save her from herself.” – William Maxwell





Karin Boye –  I have only read one novel by Karin Boye, ‘Kallocain’ , but that one novel is good enough so that she still deserves to be on this list.  ‘Kallocain’  is a dystopian novel about a drug that detects individual acts and thoughts of rebellion.  A drab totalitarian state results from the wholesale use of the drug.  ‘Kallocain’ was one of the inspirations for Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’.  Karin Boye committed suicide in 1941 at the age of 40.






Sandor Marai – He wrote in his native Hungarian, and he was not translated into English until the 1990s after he died. During his lifetime he managed to infuriate both the Nazis and the Communists, no small feat. ‘Embers’, his novel written in 1942, is his most justly famous.

“Elegiac, sombre, musical, and gripping, Embers is a brilliant disquisition on friendship, one of the most ambitious in literature.” – Anna Shapiro





Manuel Puig – He was born in Argentina in “a little town in the Pampas” but was exiled from Argentina for most of his life due to political reasons.  He was much influenced by old Hollywood movies of the 1930s and the 1940s, and one of his novels, ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’, was made into a successful movie as well as a play.  Other novels by Puig that I really like are ‘Betrayed by Rita Hayworth’ and ‘Heartbreak Tango’.

“I write novels because there is something I don’t understand in reality.” – Manuel Puig






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