Thursday, April 18, 2013

Good and Cheap (Books)! Day 16

Best Young Novelists
My favorite literary magazine is Granta and I am going to talk you into a subscription. Well, I am going to talk you into at least buying one copy. Baby steps.  Granta recently announced their list of Best Young British Novelists, something they do once a decade.  Now, before we get to that, you may ask "Well, what kind of track record do these clowns at Granta have in picking great writers?"  And to you I say two things: 1.Calm down 2. Why so negative all the time? Why not just trust that Granta is going to hand you a list of truly promising talent; why do you need proof? You’re that jaded?

Have you ever heard of William Faulkner? Is that impressive enough for you?  Granta didn’t discover him, of course, but I sort of just want to gauge what impresses you. Since you’re not easily impressed, I will start off with a writer that will send you running for your checkbook: A.A. Milne. That’s right, Winnie the Pooh. Let me throw some other names at you: Sylvia Plath (who, you know, could have benefited from a bit of Winnie the Pooh in her life), Stevie Smith (who I was obsessed with at one point), and Ted Hughes (did he not go anywhere without Sylvia?).

You want recent names, don’t you? You’re bored with the past? Well the past ain’t bored with you. Salman Rushdie, A.L. Kennedy, Jeanette Winterson, Zadie Smith,  Kazuo Ishiguro, Julian Barnes, Martin damn Amis, and Will Self. You need a minute to take all that in. I understand.

You could be reading these guys before anyone else in your house does. Unless you're at Lizzy's house, where it's just Liz and Zorro. So sad. Do you know how good it's going to feel when you are sitting around the dinner table discussing the Man Booker Prize (like most American families are prone to do) and someone says, “Oh I was so surprised that David Mitchell was long listed for the Booker?” And that’s where you bust in and say, “What? The man is pure genius! I first read him when Granta published him years ago, you dummy! I want a divorce!” Uh, and you can finally get a divorce from a man who doesn’t appreciate David Mitchell the way he should be. Or you know, you can just work it out; it's your marriage, I’m just laying out options.

Here are your 2013 Best Young British Writers (and yes Zadie Smith is on here, but it's not her fault she is still so young): Evie Wyld [I love her], David Szalay, Adam Thirlwell, Kamila Shamsie, Naomi Alderman, Tahmima Anam, Ned Beauman, Jenni Fagan, Adam Foulds, Xiaolu Guo (call Liz for a correct pronunciation), Sarah Hall (call Gianna for a correct pronunciation), Steven Hall, Joanna Kavenna, Benjamin Markovits, Nadifa Mohamed, Helen Oyeyemi, Ross Raisin, Sunjeev Sahota, Taiye Selsi, and the great Zadie Smith.

I know it’s pretty annoying that over half are women and the list is incredibly diverse. Sigh, what can you do, progress.

Who are some American writers that Granta helped get started? Glad you asked. Mona Simpson, Edwidge Danticat, Ethan Canin, Sherman Alexie, Jeffrey Eugenides, Lorrie Moore, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss, and Karen Russell.  Also, Jonathan Franzen, you know it’s hard to keep the riff raff out.

So there you have it.  If you want to be ahead of the curve on the very best writing and art in the world, subscribe to Granta. If not, don’t, but I think you’re going to look like a dumb dumb at the dinner table. Unless you're Liz and eat all of your meals on the couch because she's just sad.

No comments:

Post a Comment