Best of Young British Novelists 4

John Freeman (ed.)

Best of Young British Novelists 4

The fourth instalment of Granta's always compelling, prescient and star-making Best of Young British Novelists list. 3.3 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
Best of Young British Novelists 4

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction, Short Stories
Format Paperback
Pages 256
RRP
Date of Publication April 2013
ISBN 978-1905881673
Publisher Granta
 

The fourth instalment of Granta's always compelling, prescient and star-making Best of Young British Novelists list.

Reviews

The Sunday Times

Robert Collins

With more women than ever (twice as many as in 1993), the list also displays the geographical and cultural breadth that Granta, and its American editor, clearly sees British fiction springing from. Nadifa Mohamed, who came to Britain aged five, writes here about her native Somalia, alongside pieces by Benjamin Markovits (born in Texas), Xiaolu Guo (born in China), Tahmima Anam (Bangladesh) and Kamila Shamsie (Pakistan). It’s a remarkable, characterful snapshot of the range and depth of British fiction today.

21/04/2013

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The Financial Times

Lorien Kite

Freeman instructs us at the outset not to think of this group in generational terms but rather to treat each writer as unique. Yet gradually a theme emerges: most of the contributions are concerned with some kind of displacement. Moving from Ned Beauman’s Burmese drug factories to Evie Wyld’s Australian sheering station, Sunjeev Sahota’s visaless immigrants in Sheffield and Tahmima Anam’s Dubai construction workers, the impression forms that what interests this generation most is how we respond to being elsewhere.

19/04/2013

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The Observer

Tim Adams

Still, reading back to back the vividly crafted excerpts and stories, you are struck by a few things: first, the writers are defiantly, almost perversely, global in their reference points … Second, no one, gay or straight, seems to have much interest in writing about sex anymore; and third, comic intent or mischief is, as in most fiction chosen by diligent committee, in perilously short supply (with Naomi Alderman's likable story about the prophet Elijah in Hendon, London, an honourable exception). The dominant tone is of poignant uprootedness, anxious displacement.

21/04/2013

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The Spectator

Philip Hensher

What is somewhat lacking, or not clear, is an overall flavour of a generation — the sort of thing that the previous lists possessed in spades. But the generation definitely has one. The best novelists, like Hall, McGregor, Raisin or Smith are minute observers of domestic circumstances; often, as with Harvey or two excellent recent first novels by David Whitehouse and Will Wiles, catastrophe seems innate in the smallest details of lives. The improbability of a life made up as it goes along takes different but compelling narrative aspects in Evie Wyld and Ned Beauman, and, though this list doesn’t show it, there is a genuine revival of interest in contemporary Britain as a subject.

20/04/2013

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The Times

Erica Wagner

There are, however, several issues to raise besides the one of familiarity. The most obvious one is that raised by our South Pacific correspondents: my list won’t be your list. There are 20 names on Granta’s list: but to my mind there are significant omissions. Where’s Jon McGregor (If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, to name but one)? Where’s Anjali Joseph (Saraswati Park, Another Country)? Where’s Stephen Kelman, whose Pigeon English was one of the finest debuts I’ve read in recent years? Where are Chris Cleave (Incendiary) and Samantha Harvey (The Wilderness)? My taste, not that of Granta; readers must not see any single list as definitive.

16/04/2013

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The Guardian

Theo Tait

The Granta list is designed as a cheerleading exercise, part of the apparatus of support that younger writers need to thrive. So what I'm going to say probably counts as a heinous act of party-pooping: but Best of Young British Novelists 4 doesn't, as a whole, inspire about the future of the British novel. It offers some exceptional writing, but mostly solid, old-fashioned storytelling or hit-and-miss, boil-in-the-bag postmodernism. If you look at the selections from 1983 onwards, you see a gradual but unmistakable tailing off of talent as the decades progress. I'm afraid that this list continues that trend.

16/04/2013

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