FRANK HOLLENTERBY and the Granta Under Forty List
Exciting as it is to see so many well-deserved names on the brand-spanking-new Granta list (of the most promising young British novelists under 40) one can’t help but feel that – as in decades gone past – the list has allowed itself to be dominated by the “traditional” novel.
Not, that is, traditional in form per se; the presence of such a diverse set of writers as Xiaolu Guo (whose A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers certainly knocked me for six), the always engaging and promising Tahmima Anam and the inestimable Jenni Fagan proves that much.
But in the sense of the requirement (implied or obliged) for a text based, “written down” novel – bound forever to floppy old pieces of paper or the softly illuminated words of the kindle – we might as well be looking at oh-so-many Victorian baggy monsters. At its furthest reaches perhaps there is Adam Thirlwell – whose playful Kapow! so delighted and upset critics last year (it even left Steven Poole in the Guardian “queasy”, poor fellow) – but that, alas, is about it. It’s a sad sad missed opportunity.