Writers pick the modern classic novels, published in the first sixty years of the twentieth century, that they feel are most due for a revival. I'm puzzled about why Their Eyes Were Watching God was named, as Zora Neale Hurston's wonderful novel is doing rather well these days (after vanishing into obscurity for decades until Alice Walker led the effort to bring it back into the light in the 1970s). It was an Oprah Book Club pick, for chrissakes, and made into a movie starring Halle Berry. Other writers named titles that are really skulking in the background; I'm a big fan of the vote for Isaac Babel's Collected Stories especially. While Babel is certainly acclaimed in certain circles, his work is not nearly as well known as it should be. I'm new to most of the other names, and am especially intrigued by the work of Lu Xun and Josephine Johnson.
This project of The Independent also calls to mind Michel Dirda's interesting review in The Wall Street Journal on Louis Couperus' Eline Vere. It sounds great.
'Eline Vere" first appeared in 1889, and its success launched the career of Louis Couperus (1863-1923), now regarded as the greatest Dutch novelist of his time. That may sound like faint praise. It shouldn't. With this "novel of The Hague," Couperus produced one of those beautifully composed, old-style realist novels that present an entire society to us while simultaneously questioning its values. If you enjoy Tolstoy or Trollope, you really should try Ina Rilke's new translation of this superb, albeit too little-known book.
... Louis Couperus was only 26 when the novel was first published, but already he handles his many characters with masterly ease and keeps his prose smooth, light and flowing: Ina Rilke's translation cannot be praised highly enough. Paul Binding's equally fine afterword sets the novel in the context of Couperus's life (well to do, dandy, homosexual) ... With "Eline Vere" the estimable Archipelago Books continues to make available in English some the most important works of European literature.