Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Granta's Best of Young American Novelists 2

Granta has a new issue coming out on April 24th devoted to the Best of Young American Novelists 2. You can see the list they chose at: www.bestyoungnovelists.com. So I got to wondering, how’d they do last time?

It was back in 1996 in issue 54 that they last chose the "Best of Young American Novelists." Well, Eugenides and Franzen turned out to be prescient choices. Most of the names on this list went on to garner good reviews if not great sales, but I have to admit I haven’t even heard of some of them: David Haynes, Allen Kurzweil, Fay Myenne Ng, Melanie Rae Thon, and Kate Wheeler. And as an Amazon critic points out: no David Foster Wallace or Richard Powers

Highlights of the new list seem to be Gary Shteyngart, Nicole Krauss and her husband Jonathan Safran Foer. Kevin Brockmeier, Daniel Alarcon, Anthony Doerr, Uzodinma Iweala, Maile Meloy, ZZ Packer, and Karen Russell it seems to me, are just getting established. I think it’s too soon to call. The others are fairly unknown but here’s hoping. I’ve read stories by Doerr, which I found more interesting for their research than their narrative, and Russell, which struck me as refreshingly weird but her style still inchoate. She hasn’t yet learned to sustain interest. So, on first consideration this seems a stronger list that last time but still not the all-star team it should be. Hmm, are those Brits trying to rig the game for competition?



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