Being away last week, I was able to peruse the Granta Best of Young British Novelists 4 at leisure and let others more competent than I comment on it. If you missed it, here they are: Naomi Alderman; Tahmima Anam; Ned Beauman; Jenni Fagan; Adam Foulds; Xiaolu Guo; Sarah Hall; Steven Hall; Joanna Kavenna; Benjamin Markovits; Nadifa Mohamed; Helen Oyeyemi; Ross Raisin; Sunjeev Sahota; Taiye Selasi; Kamila Shamsie; Zadie Smith; David Szalay; Adam Thirlwell; Evie Wyld. (If you want to see what they look like, The New York Times has a slideshow as does the Daily Telegraph). I have now read at least one book by all of the twenty linked above and, I must say, most of them are very fine authors. However, there have been some complaints. Firstly, are they up to it? People were not very impressed with the quality of the writers on this list, except, perhaps for Sarah Hall and Zadie Smith. They were compared unfavourably with writers on previous lists, particularly the first one, as well as with current US writers. This is probably unfair as US writers do get more publicity and it really is too early to tell for most of them. The second complaint is whether they are really British. The key criterion was that they had to hold a British passport so presumably that was checked. But quite a few of these writers were from somewhere else and quite a few do not live in the UK. This, of course, does not exclude them.
The third complaint is what was omitted. Various people made various suggestions. I have combined their suggestions and mine into the list below. A few comments. Peter Hobbs (like Kamila Shamsie, who made the list) was born in 1973. I cannot determine if he was born before or after the April cut-off date. Some of these may not be British citizens, the other key criterion. Ciarán Collins and Paul Murray are Irish, Tahmima Anam Bangladeshi and Neel Mukherjee Indian. But are they also British?
An interesting list and I shall certainly read some of them over the next few months and maybe decide whether they have been unfairly omitted. Let us hope that they are not neglected because they did not make the list. Hilary Mantel did not make any of the earlier lists! Have I missed any? Let me know.