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Random Chit-Chat > Top 20 Young British Writers

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message 1: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) | 2929 comments I picked up the Telegraph Review at my Mum and Dads yesterday and read an interesting article that listed what it considers to be the top 20 young British writers. It is a list presented by Lorna Bradley and was selected using the same criteria as the New Yorker for the American equivilent, ageist though it is as all those featured are under 40! Anyway, I thought it might be of interest to some UK Book Club members...

Chris Cleave
Rana Dasgupta
Adam Foulds
Sarah Hall
Steven Hall
Anjali Joseph
Mohsin Hamid
Joanna Kavenna
Benjamin Markovits
China Miéville
Paul Murray
Patrick Neate
Ross Raisin
Dan Rhodes
Kamila Shamsie
Zadie Smith
David Szalay
Adam Thirlwell
Scarlett Thomas
Evie Wyld

I've heard of a few but have really only read something by Zadie Smith (and that was a short story). What do you think? Has anyone read anything by anyone on the list?


message 2: by Adrienne (last edited Jun 20, 2010 04:57AM) (new)

Adrienne | 265 comments Interesting but I'm rather against lists such as these. Why? because they are compiled by people who 'think' they know alot about books and authors and are only a reflection of what they consider be good reading/literature etc. They don't take into account that reading is very personal experience, Lists can and do manipulate. On a lighter note and more in keeping with the spirit of thing like Em I've only read a short by Zadie Smith. I've heard of some of the others and maybe I'll check on here to see if any of them appeal.


message 3: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn (26kathryn) | 50 comments I haven't even heard of most of those! Haven't read anything by any of them either.


Lynne - The Book Squirrel (squirrelsend) | 3625 comments I haven't heard of any of them either! I think I may have seen Zadie Smith's name on the shelves but can't swear to it! Wonder how they compile these lists?


Lynne - The Book Squirrel (squirrelsend) | 3625 comments Yes have seen that one, Naff cover on it! lol!


message 6: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) | 2929 comments I agree lists (even book prize short lists) are a bit arbitrary however, I liked this article as it had a synopsis about the kind of books each person wrote and it was up for discussion on their website - they were inviting debate on it. What I liked about this particular one was that it highlights some British talent and is a good means of finding some good new authors to have a look at!


message 7: by Dan (new)

Dan Smith | 173 comments Em wrote: "I picked up the Telegraph Review at my Mum and Dads yesterday and read an interesting article that listed what it considers to be the top 20 young British writers. It is a list presented by Lorna..."

Well, obviously there's been some mistake, because my name's not on the list...

I've read White Teeth, but it wasn't really for me, and although I've not read any of Chris Cleave's books, I saw him speak at an author event a few weeks ago and he was very relaxed and approachable.


message 8: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) | 2929 comments Yes, obviously an oversight there Dan - unless you've turned 40 in which case you're excluded on age grounds! I know, charming isn't it?


message 9: by Dan (new)

Dan Smith | 173 comments Em wrote: "Yes, obviously an oversight there Dan - unless you've turned 40 in which case you're excluded on age grounds! I know, charming isn't it?"

Still on the younger side of 40 ... but only just!


ModernAlexandrian Huh, I've not read any of them either... Oh, wait! I've read China!! Un Lun Dun - hurrah! *laughs*


message 11: by Marisa (new)

Marisa Atkinson (totesmarisa) Ooh, thanks for posting this, Em! There was a lot of excitement (good and bad) surrounding the New Yorker's list that came out in the States last month. I'm always trying to read more work from young British novelists, though, so I'm glad to see a list I could start with.

I keep hearing the name Scarlett Thomas pop up...anyone read anything by her?


message 12: by Adrienne (last edited Jul 14, 2010 10:56PM) (new)

Adrienne | 265 comments I haven't read anything but I did take a look at her profile, and read some of the reviews GRs readers have given her, Don't know if I'll read anything by her though, I'm a little unsure of which genre she fits into, blurb reads like fantasy but reviews read as series and thought provoking.....strange.


message 13: by Sam (new)

Sam (ecowitch) | 596 comments I have, I read The End of Mr. Y and it was very good. It's about a student who has an interest in 19th century scientists and thought experiements. She ends up finding a very rare and supposedly cursed book and ends up being chased by guys with guns while trying to find her mentor who has disappeared and trying to figure out what experiement the book describes and trying to get it to work. It's quite in-depth on the science front but it does explain it all rather well and it raises a lot of interesting issues about religion, what life really means and how language is and has been used. It is a kind of fantasy book but a more believable one given the historical side of things and it has a good bit of action to boot. I would definitely recommend giving it a go.


message 14: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) | 2929 comments My friend has picked up Little Bee, also known as "The Other Hand" by Chris Cleave, the blurb is a bit unusual - something along the lines of 'we can't tell you about this book, but you HAVE to read it because it is so amazing and you'll be recommending it to others but DON'T tell them what happens' - I'm not quite sure what to make of it. It could be fantastic but I won't be happy if it doesn't turn out to be as fantatic as the blurb suggests!


message 15: by Dan (new)

Dan Smith | 173 comments Em wrote: "My friend has picked up Little Bee, also known as "The Other Hand" by Chris Cleave, the blurb is a bit unusual - something along the lines of 'we can't tell you about..."

Yeah, a strange way to promote a book - by not telling you what it's about. First time I saw it, I liked the cover, but put it back when I read the blurb.


message 16: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) | 2929 comments Well it shows confidence I suppose...


message 17: by Liz, Moderator (new)

Liz | 3468 comments Mod
Sam wrote: "I have, I read The End of Mr. Y and it was very good. It's about a student who has an interest in 19th century scientists and thought experiements. She ends up finding a very rare ..."

Yep, I read The End of Mr. Y earlier this year too. It's a real page-turner and hard to stick in a specific genre (which is one of the things I liked about it); part literary mystery, part fantasy, part philosophical treatise....! Overall it's a fun read, although I felt the writing was a little self-indulgent in places and I wasn't totally happy with the ending. It may not be perfect, but it's totally absorbing & definitely worth a read. (I will be reading other books by Scarlett Thomas in the future....)


message 18: by Adrienne (new)

Adrienne | 265 comments Thanks for the info Liz I like books that make the reader think, even though they may slip in between genres. To be honest I can't be doong with all the 'snobbery' that authors/publishers seems to place on so called cross~genre mis~fits.


message 19: by Liz, Moderator (new)

Liz | 3468 comments Mod
Em wrote: "My friend has picked up Little Bee, also known as "The Other Hand" by Chris Cleave, the blurb is a bit unusual - something along the lines of 'we can't tell you about..."

Just checked out the blurb & reviews for
Little Bee. Agreed, the cover design is beautiful, but I have been disappointed so many times by over-hyped books that I'm pretty cautious these days...

Case in point: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, which I read when it came out. Don't give a book a title like that, (even if it is tongue-in-cheek) it may get attention, but it will always disappoint!

(Then again undervaluing the book wouldn't do it any favours either....'A Pointless Work of Jaw-dropping Mediocrity' probably isn't a great title....)


message 20: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) | 2929 comments I know what you mean Liz, the hype can be counter-productive sometimes!

I've got book group this Wednesday, we're discussing The Road which I'm looking forward to and one of our group will be bringing three books to vote on - I;ve already found out that one of them is Little Bee and another one is The Elegance of the Hedgehog, there's a third but it sounds instantly forgetable so I reckon it'll be between these two. We'll see...


message 21: by Zoe, UK Book Club Creator (new)

Zoe (zobo77) | 532 comments Mod
I read Little Bee by Chris Cleave, though I'm sure it had a different title when I read it! It was actually quite good. I didn't like how the blurb didn't tell much about the story - I like to know what sort of book I'm reading before I read it :)


message 22: by Em (last edited Sep 23, 2010 11:02AM) (new)

Em (emmap) | 2929 comments It's also called The Other Hand - hated the blurb - and having read the book it wasn't necessary, but did like the book alot.


message 23: by Zoe, UK Book Club Creator (new)

Zoe (zobo77) | 532 comments Mod
I thought that was what it was called :) Yeah, I think the blurb let the book down slightly


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