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Vote vote vote! For your favourite neglected book

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Mark Damazer Mark Damazer 08:02, Sunday, 25 October 2009

Rainbow books - arranged by colour

We are coming up to half-way through our initiative to bring to light brilliant books that have been unfairly/unreasonably/incorrectly/shamefully cast aside - by public indifference/daft publishers/the cruel hand of fate/rotten luck. Mariella Frostrup, Queen of Books, is interviewing a glittering group of 10 authors on Open Book. Each author champions a book that - in their view - has been unreasonably neglected.

The authors are: Ruth Rendell, Susan Hill, Beryl Bainbridge, William Boyd, Colm Toibin, Michael Morpurgo, Hari Kunzru, Val McDermid, Joanna Trollope and Howard Jacobson.

Last week Mariella interviewed five of them - and in this week's programme (Sunday 1600, repeated Thursday 1600) she will interview the other five. All ten of them are passionate about their neglected classic - so the obvious thing to do is to read the lot.

But in the meantime - vote. Because you will decide which one of these books is top of the neglected classics pile and we will then adapt it on Radio 4 - probably in the Classic Serial slot. So you're helping shape the schedule. Who knows - we might even do more than one of the ten.

You vote by going to the website. Voting will start immediately after Open Book is transmitted on Sunday.

We'd also like to hear what your favourite neglected classic is. And we may well reflect what you say on the programme too in coming weeks. I have my own neglected classic - which I happen to believe is the finest novel, neglected or not, written in the twentieth century. I am afraid/delighted you will end up hearing it at some point on Radio 4. But for the time being I want you to vote for the ten glorious specimens on offer. We have already received a lot of correspondence about Neglected Classics - so please do your literary duty!

Mark Damazer is Controller of BBC Radio 4


  • Comment number 1.

    Well, last time Radio4 Blog asked for audience participation, you asked us to come up with a name for a new science/comedy programme. Lots of people made suggestions, but YOU NEVER CAME BACK TO UPDATE THE BLOG and announce what the final decision was (like you promised to).

    SO, I'm NOT TELLING YOU my neglected classic, nerrrrh!

    *flounces off melodramatically*

  • Comment number 2.

    I think this initiative is an excellent one, and there is an undoubted enthusiasm behind all ten nominations.

    But - does fine literary prose and fabulous description and wisdom and epic or heartwarming narrative always translate into great sound drama? Although a couple of the proposers seem to have borne this factor in mind when choosing their neglected classic, I'm not convinced the dramatisation aspect was made sufficiently clear in the brief. I've cast my vote on what I feel would sound the most exciting.

    The other misgiving I've got with the transcription of the winner is the perennial criticism of the current format of the Classic Serial, namely that many of the recent choices have become so condensed the programme has taken the form merely of the Classic Paragraph.


  • Comment number 3.

    May I ask why Sybille Bedford has not been nominated? If there were ever a neglected classic it would be one of her books. Say Jigsaw" her bitter-sweet semi-autobiographical novel, or the novel "A Favourite of the Gods".
    Julia Neuberger wrote of Bedford, "Of all the women writers of the twentieth century, Bedford is to my mind the finest". Neuberger was right.

  • Comment number 4.

    Since I heard about this vote I had been thinking that it would be lovely if "Miss MacKenzie" was nominated, so I was delighted when Joanna Trollope kept it in the family and put forward the case for this wonderful book, first thrust into my hands by a friend, after which I recommended it to several others, all of whom loved it. It was the first Anthony Trollope I managed to finish, and encouraged me to go back to him. Joanna is absolutely right in all she says - it is full of wonderful set pieces, comedy & social comment and would dramatise perfectly, with several truly great parts including, as she said, the utterly ghastly Rev. Maguire.

  • Comment number 5.

    Russ - great prose doesn't always translate well, but Miss MacKenzie would! Vote for it and see!

  • Comment number 6.

    greenjeanbrowne - too late now! I voted several days ago, Miss MacKenzie being my 'runner up', and Joanna Trollope certainly made a very good case for its dramatic qualities on radio. Perhaps when Open Book announces the voting, R4 may look kindly on doing more than just the winner.

  • Comment number 7.

    Just to say I thought the Snow Goose was a great and moving production. I note that the runner up, Trollope's Miss MacKenzie, is also to be done as well, and the neglected classic event will be run again this year.

    I'm nearly fainting at this outbreak of rampant democracy on Radio 4...



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