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Trade picks the books 'that got away'
01.01.70 | Katie Allen
Publishers, agents and translators have come up with their "one that got away", with the likes of Jamie Byng, Lee Brackstone and Roland Philipps "quietly mourning a volume that unnaccountably never made the 'best of' or bestseller lists" for the Guardian.
Canongate publisher and m.d. Byng selected The Spare Room by Helen Garner, which missed out on the Booker longlist in 2008, to Byng's chagrin. He described it as being "as good as anything Canongate has ever published. Or will publish". He added he was "confident that this exceptional book will be come to be widely regarded as a modern classic".
Brackstone, Faber editorial director, picked out Born Yesterday by Gordon Burn, claiming "it stands alongside the best of Mailer and De Lillo and should have seen Gordon anointed as their fearless equal".
John Murray's m.d Philipps chose War Reporting for Cowards by Chris Ayres, blaming "the gap between commissioning it in 2003 and it being written and published two years later: by then the war had got so unpopular with the public that every book about it, brilliantly entertaining or not, was struggling". He added: "I hope in time it will become recognised as a classic."
Among agents, Victoria Hobbs of A M Heath selected Mutiny by Lindsey Collen, which despite "excellent" reviews, "somehow just never quite took off".
Mark Lucas of Lucas Alexander Whitley picked out Barefoot Soldier by Johnson Beharry VC . He said: "I don't begrudge Jordan her megasales. But I'd prefer to live in a world where Johnson Beharry VC's astonishing, selfless bravery is more vigorously cherished."