Granta list 'proves publishing has broadened horizons'

Debut novelist Taiye Selasi, whose tale of a fractured family Ghana Must Go was published by Viking just a fortnight ago, is among the newest names in literary fiction to feature on the 2013 Granta Best of Young British Novelists list (in full, below).

The list has been hailed by booksellers for reflecting how much publishers horizons have broadened from the stereotype of the industry as "parochial, middle-class, white or London-centric". But publishers were left angry when chaos over guest numbers at the announcement ceremony held at the British Council in London SW1 last night (15th April) meant many were unable to get through the doors to be with their authors for the big moment.

Selasi is joined by fellow newcomer Jenni Fagan, whose debut The Panopticon (Wm Heinemann) was a Waterstones Eleven choice last year; Evie Wyld, who won acclaim for her first novel After the Fire, A Still, Small Voice (Jonathan Cape); and Nadifa Mohamed, whose 2010 debut Black Mamba Boy (HarperCollins) was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. Steven Hall, author of The Raw Shark Texts (Canongate) and Sunjeev Sahota, author of Ours Are the Streets (Picador, 2011), are also among those shortlisted on the strength of their first book.

Among established names, two writers from the 2003 Granta list return: Zadie Smith, who has since published Orange Prize-winner On Beauty and NW (Hamish Hamilton); and Adam Thirlwell, who has published novel The Escape (Jonathan Cape) and novella Kapow! (Visual Editions) since his last listing. Sarah Hall, Kamila Shamsie and Naomi Alderman also all feature.

But there is no place on the list for Jon McGregor, Richard Milward or Joe Dunthorne.

Twelve of the 20 authors on the much-prized, one-in-a-decade selection of writers under 40, often taken as an indicator of future literary stardom, are women.

Jonathan Ruppin, web editor for Foyles, said: “As always, the Granta list makes for a fascinating snapshot of the state of British literary fiction. For me Sarah Hall is the star of the show, an author who can already be counted amongst the best contemporary British writers by any criteria. But many of the others are at the heart of the novel's continuing evolution as an art form: there's the boundless imagination of Ned Beauman, the impressionistic language of Taiye Selasi, the fierce intelligence of Adam Foulds and the confident experimentation of Helen Oyeyemi."

He added: "A comparison with the first list in 1983 also reflects how multicultural Britain has become in the intervening decades, with writers from a far wider range of ethnic backgrounds making their mark. The British publishing industry is often criticised for being parochial, middle-class, white or London-centric and while this may have been true in the past, I think this list shows how much our horizons have broadened.”

Waterstones spokesperson Jon Howells said: “It is the fourth time the list has happened and it is an amazingly strong brand considering it only happens every 10 years. It builds up a lot of excitement and gets people talking  about the writers, most of whom are not well-known, and this is a great achievement and will stick with them throughout their careers.”

Granta editor John Freeman said of the 2013 list: "From satirists to humorists to sweeping epic-spinners, these writers have a command of language and their form which is simply astonishing. They show that the novel has a bold, brilliant future in Britain. I could not be prouder of the list."

Freeman judged the prize alongside Granta deputy editor Ellah Allfrey and publisher Sigrid Rausing, novelists Romesh Gunesekera and A L Kennedy, Scotland on Sunday literary editor Stuart Kelly and Gaby Wood, head of books at the Telegraph Media Group.

A new story from each writer on the 2013 list is published in Granta 123: The Best of Young British Novelists 4, published today (16th April).

The list was revealed on BBC Radio 4's "Front Row" last night (15th April). 

 

The Granta Best of Young British Novelists 2013:

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

Read the LBF Bookseller Daily: Day 2