Granta best 20 young novelists – Part deux

Samantha Harvey's first novel.  Will she make the list?
Samantha Harvey’s first novel. Will she make the list?

Back in January, I commented on the forthcoming Granta list of the best 20 young novelists and, in particular, Philip Hensher’s comments thereon. Hensher had made his own suggestions as to who should be on the list – ten certs: Jon McGregor, Zadie Smith, Ned Beauman, Ross Raisin, Joe Dunthorne, Sarah Hall, Adam Foulds, Samantha Harvey, Nick Laird, and Paul Murray and ten possibles: Stuart Neville, Naomi Alderman, Evie Wyld, Neel Mukherjee, Courttia Newland, Tahmima Anam, Owen Sheers, Helen Walsh, Alex Preston, and Gwendoline Riley. Former Granta editor and Guardian columnist Alex Clark has now published her suggestions as well as an article on how the list is chosen (she was on the selection committee ten years ago). Clark just has one list. Those in bold above are on Clark’s list. She also has
Sam Byers, Edward Hogan, Stuart Evers, Stephen Kelman (of whom Hensher says I think the judges will pass over A.D. Miller and Stephen Kelman, relics of the worst Booker shortlist ever in 2011), Rebecca Hunt, Francesca Segal, Helen Oyeyemi and Kerry Hudson.

Zadie Smith - not on Clark's list as she was on the last list
Zadie Smith – not on Clark’s list as she was on the last list

There are a couple of surprises. Clark has no Zadie Smith (though she does say that she may well appear again – she was on the list ten years ago). There is a precedent for writers appearing on two lists, with Adam Mars-Jones appearing on the first two lists despite the fact that his first novel was not published till after the second list was published. And Smith is younger than Sarah Hall who (quite rightly) appears on both the Hensher and Clark list. The same applies to Adam Thirlwell who is under forty but appeared on the last list. Neither list seems to be very strong on Welsh or Scottish authors. From Wales, what about Cynan Jones, Caryl Lewis or Gee Williams? And, from Scotland, there are Alan Bissett, Sophie Cooke and Eleanor Thom. Helen Oyeyemi did not make Hensher’s list though she has definitely moved up the rankings in the last couple of months. However, apart from Oyeyemi, Smith, McGregor, Hall and Paul Murray (who is not British but Irish), few have much of reputation, I would have thought.

The results are published by Granta on 15 April and you can bet that there will be a few surprises, including at least two or three who are not on either Hensher’s or Clark’s list and possibly including, as has happened before, two or three writers who have yet to have a novel published. Wouldn’t it be nice if they had on their list a writer who writes in Welsh, Gaelic or some other non-English language? Naah, it’s not going to happen.

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