Every 10 years, Granta Magazine dedicates a special issue celebrating the 20 best British novelists under the age of 40. Historically, the judges have chosen with remarkable prescience, accurately predicting the authors who will craft the future of British fiction. Barker, Barnes, Hollinghurst, Ishiguro, Mitchell, Rushdie, Smith, Tremain, Winterson - long before they were household names they were Granta Best of Young British Novelists. To borrow from The Observer, this is "a list that sets the literary agenda for a generation".
Audible invited all these young novelists to read their work - some of them did, and some of them chose to have their stories professionally narrated - and the result is an exciting blend of literary talent and spoken-word: These distinctive voices and the sense of place that permeate every story create a listening experience you will not soon forget.
Now in audio for the first time, we present the voices of the next generation.
John Freeman's criticism has appeared in more than 200 newspapers around the world, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Times and The Wall Street Journal. Between 2006 and 2008, he served as president of the National Book Critics Circle. His first book, The Tyranny of Email, was published in 2009. How to Read a Novelist will be published in 2013. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker and Zyzzyva.
Fantastic and varied writing in this collection. I had a hard time pacing myself so that I could fully enjoy each author. Overall, a wonderful sample of these authors’ works and I look forward to getting my hands on their next novels. A common theme seemed to be the experience of immigrants in Britain or elsewhere (Indians in Dubai). We reap the rewards of such a multi-cultural society with the variety of stories produced from the immigrant experience.
Most memorable stories:
Tahmina Anam: Anwar gets everything
The story of Indians brought to work on building sites in Dubai. We get a glimpse into their living conditions, the demands to send money home, their difficult working life. One of the workmen thinks he is entitled to more--a girlfriend, air-conditioning, trips to the cinema--but ends up washing windows on a swaying platform on one of the highest buildings in the middle of a sandstorm. Anwar advises him not to look down.
Naomi Alderman: Soon and in our days
I loved this tongue-in-cheek tale, a humorous piece about Judaism in Britain, which makes us think about religion in society. Praying to the Prophet Elijah, we have a sneak preview of what would happen if he did come down on Earth. It’s not often that I actually LOL when reading, but I did here. A memorable line about Greta, who didn’t like goat's cheese. I need to read more from this author. Listening to her podcast on the Granta website, I believe she is now mentored by Margaret Atwood. Looking forward to reading more.
David Szalay: Europa
Told through the eyes of a Hungarian immigrant as he accepts a job as minder for Emma, this is a fascinating insight into his world. Emma is brought to a hotel for her first job as a prostitute. The minder reflects on his role, while attracted too to Emma, and sits with Emma’s boyfriend in the car waiting.
Evie Wyld: After the Hedland
Set in the Aussie outback among sheep shearers, the main character, a woman, tells of the tough existence and the difficulty of being a woman in this world. She is running away from something so she has no choice but to stick with what the outback throws at her. Looking forward to reading the finished novel.
Adam Thirlwell: Slow Motion
Written in conversational style, the main character really takes the reader into his head. ‘What I thought was this…’ We know his every thought as he tries to dispose of a girl's body, a girl who he woke up with but doesn’t remember going to bed with.
Sanjeev Sahota: Arrivals
Indians working and living in a cramped flats in Sheffield. Most of them are illegal and know they have no choice but to accept the worst jobs with toughest conditions. The main character got married in order to have a proper visa but doesn’t dare suggest to his wife that they move in together. He describes his days making chapatti before work, sharing the house, buying supplies from different shops to avoid chances of being caught as illegals in Britain. They go to work in van in the freezing cold, yet are thrilled to see snow for the first time. There is respect for elders, and a curiosity to know from which region in India each new person comes. I was totally engrossed in this story and am looking forward to completed novel.
Many other stories and authors worth reading in this collection.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
The variability of the chapters was too great. Sometimes there were stories in a chapter, other times it was a just a chapter from a book. I think if this was just a collection of short stories (like the free sample) it would have been much better and satisfying. Too many random snippets.
What could Granta Magazine have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
Reading a chapter from a yet to be published book is not that much fun. there's no entry point and no ending, so altogether inadequate. I think Granta could have been more descriptive in what this book actually contained.
What do you think the narrator could have done better?
They were mostly very good.
Any additional comments?
I was very disappointed upon reading the full book after reading a great initial free sample, and feel a little duped. Perhaps if the free sample hadn't been a complete story in itself (and a very good one), then i might not have been persuaded to by this. Would not buy again :-(
Great free sample, but mostly poor or varied other chapters.
Original, surprising and eclectic stories and excerpts. It is interesting to hear the authors (mostly) reading their own works! Highly recommended.