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The Spare Room and Boy A 'are unrecognised modern classics'

17th December 2009

Helen Garner's The Spare Room, War Reporting for Cowards by Chris Ayres and Jonathan Trigell's Boy A are among the decade's books that deserve more recognition, according to publishing insiders.

Canongate managing director Jamie Byng told the Guardian that The Spare Room is 'brutally honest' and should be regarded as a modern classic, but was overlooked by all the major literary prizes.

'It's deceptive in many ways and I think its great subtlety is one of the reasons that it will only get fully appreciated over time,' he added.

War Reporting for Cowards was chosen by Roland Philipps, managing director of John Murray, who claimed it is one of the funniest works he has helped to publish, but by the time it came out the war in Iraq - its subject matter - had become unpopular with the public.

Rebecca Gray, Serpent's Tail editor, told the newspaper that Boy A is 'incredibly powerful' and looks at emotional issues such as how people can redeem themselves after committing terrible acts.

She said that the publisher expected the book to do well when it came out in 2004 and was surprised when it did not - although its fortunes now seem to be changing for the better.

Earlier this month, the Guardian claimed that White Teeth by Zadie Smith, Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion and Home by Marilynne Robinson are among the books that defined the past decade.

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