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Granta 139


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The third instalment in Granta's iconic list of the best new voices in American fiction.

About the Author

Sigrid Rausing is Editor and Publisher of Granta magazine and Publisher of Granta and Portobello Books. She is the author of History, Memory and Identity in Post-Soviet Estonia: The End of a Collective Farm and Everything is Wonderful, which has been translated into four different languages.


-The list business is not as sparklingly new as it was when Granta sat in judgment on young British novelists for the first time in 1983 (Amis, Rushdie, McEwan). But it continues to fascinate, partly because it holds the promise of hours of good reading, and partly because by taking snapshots every 10 years the lists highlight the way the novelist's eye has shifted focus over time. What leaps out of the new list, as the Granta judges have commented, is a heavy emphasis on things foreign... Despite the disparities in their birthplaces and in the settings they chose for their tales, the six writers profiled here out of the 21 agree on one thing: in the last analysis, differences of voice and location are cosmetic; what matters most are the characters they give birth to and the stories they have to tell- - Ed Pilkington, Guardian G2-In 1996 Granta magazine published its first talent-spotting list of the Young Turks of American Fiction... Granta have run their exercise again, and the results show, again, how compelling and diverse the American scene is... Granta 97, the anthology dedicated to these writers, is a splendid volume- - Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday-The second Granta list of Best Young American Authors validates the best things about US immigration, vital when so many in Europe have forgotten what a diverse, polyphonic, unmonolithic country it is... The judges of this list offer a new model of writing in which -ethnicity, migration and 'abroad' [have] replaced social class as a source of tension.- Almost everyone on the list writes about going forth, stepping out and encountering a different culture, a different land, different peoples- - Neel Mukherjee, The Times-The fresh faced future...- - Brian Donaldson, The List-Over the years, has developed an impressive reputation for literary star-spotting... With engaging humility, outgoing editor Ian Jack describes the current collection as 'our provisional and partial portrait of those who were young and wrote good fiction in America in the early years of the 21st century'... there is a wistfulness to the collection that is deeply beguiling. Though almost all the writing is assured, the stories betray a great deal of uncertainty about sex, religion, war and belonging. What is striking is that this uncertainty has provoked intense curiosity: an impulse to delve into the depths of American and global lives. If these are the inheritors of American letters, then the future looks bright- - Olivia Laing, Paperback of the Week, Observer-The first thing to strike a casual reader is the list's multi-ethnic composition... Also striking is the lack of an obvious 'school' or influence... Doer's -Procreate, Generate- (is) a powerful and effective piece...- - Christopher Tayler, Sunday Telegraph-Granta's second showcase of the best new writers from across the pond features 21 bright young things. Some you might recognise - such as uber author couple Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer - and others you wont. There's a lot of bold and challenging work here- - The London Paper-The collection is a lucky dip but there's a global, outward looking feel to many of the stories... An intriguing, encouraging selection- - Jonathan Gibbs, Metro-Short, sharp - and fantastic... this selection of short fiction is full of inventiveness and intellectual energy... (this generation has) remembered that elaborate prose can be beautiful too, and that imagination, even fantasy, are useful story-tellers' tools. But the best fiction resists generalisation, and a high proportion of these pieces are wonderfully particular; the idiosyncratic products of vigorous, unusual minds- - First Post-Ian Jack and his fellow editors...deserve credit for a selection which reflects a less culturally and aesthetically insular America than that of eleven years ago, and for their willingness to take seriously writers who are serious about their work.- - Bharat Tandon, TLS-... a blueprint for the next generation of American fictioneers: eclectic, inquiring and all the rest of it- - Private Eye-Whether this latest attempt to herd together talented young American writers ... will bring to light and stars of the future remains to be seen, but in the meantime it's also a pretty intriguing snapshot of which issues concern young literate Americans today- - Doug Johnstone, The Herald-The first thing you notice about this tipster's stable of future literary stars is how unfairly brilliant these pieces are ... even the authors names are drop dead cool ... It's enough to make unpublished writers jump out of garret windows ... the material is this rich and heady ... Vital- - Hugh Tynan, The Irish Examiner-It's all good news here; the second installment of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists, comprising a list of names largely unknown to the casual reader, is a book to buy, read and keep- - Asia Intelligence Wire

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