Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The 10 best underdogs in books

Gavin Extence was born in 1982 and grew up in the interestingly named village of Swineshead, England. From the ages of 5-11, he enjoyed a brief but illustrious career as a chess player, winning numerous national championships and travelling to Moscow and St Petersburg to pit his wits against the finest young minds in Russia. He won only one game.

In his first novel, The Universe Versus Alex Woods, epileptic teen Alex Woods is a target of bullies ... and at least one object from space. (He became a national celebrity at age 10 when he was hit by a meteorite.) What reader wouldn't pull for the kid?

For Publishers Weekly, Extence named ten of the best underdogs in literature, including:
Chief Bromden, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest – In contrast to many on this list, Bromden is a giant of a man – who just happens to think of himself as a very small man. An apparent mute, of Native American descent, Bromden is confined to a mental institution and symbolises all of society’s downtrodden and powerless. So there aren’t many fictional endings as cathartic as his – when he rips up the nurses’ control panel, hurls it through the window and escapes into the great American wilderness. Just thinking about it makes me want to whoop.
Read about another underdog on the list.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is on Melvin Burgess's list of five notable books on drugs and Darren Shan's top ten list of books about outsiders for teenagers.

--Marshal Zeringue