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Old 18th Jun 2010, 11:04   #1
Stewart
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Default Telegraph's Best Of British Under 40

Following on from the New Yorker's much debated and derided 20 under 40 list, the Telegraph has had a go at doing the same for Britain. Oh dear.

Here they are:
  1. Chris Cleave
  2. Rana Dasgupta
  3. Adam Foulds
  4. Sarah Hall
  5. Steven Hall
  6. Mohsin Hamid
  7. Anjali Joseph
  8. Joanna Kavenna
  9. Benjamin Markovits
  10. China Mieville
  11. Paul Murray
  12. Patrick Neate
  13. Ross Raisin
  14. Dan Rhodes
  15. Kamila Shamsie
  16. Zadie Smith
  17. David Szalay
  18. Adam Thirlwell
  19. Scarlett Thomas
  20. Evie Wyld
Chris Cleave? I had to check the date. It's not April.
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Old 18th Jun 2010, 11:35   #2
beer good
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Default Re: Telegraph's Best Of British Under 40

Haven't read many of these, but if Steven Hall is one of the 20 best anything in Britain, well...
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Old 18th Jun 2010, 12:19   #3
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Default Re: Telegraph's Best Of British Under 40

Quote:
Originally Posted by beer good View Post
Haven't read many of these, but if Steven Hall is one of the 20 best anything in Britain, well...
In the same way that there seems to be a British reluctance to accept its best days are behind it, I think British publishing seems happy to accept and vaunt a platform of mediocrity. Obviously I've not read all of those on the list, but I'm aware of the majority and follow reviews, chatter, etc. as it comes in. I found Cleave's The Other Hand to be a cynical affair and this review of his other novel suggests it suffers the same problems I encountered.

Rhodes I've found enjoyable, but little more than an entertainment. And Mieville having "legions of fans" hardly seems a reason to include him. Perdido Street Station could have done with a scythe. Hamid, who only recently became British, was a bit light on substance in The Reluctant Fundamentalist. As John Self has said, Murray's Skippy Dies was a bit of a Curate's Egg. And Zadie Smith's novels post-White Teeth have been met with lukewarm receptions, as have Adam Thirlwell's.

I don't read much British fiction, at least not the contemporary stuff, because I find myself more inspired by what's going on elsewhere in the world where writers seem more likely to take risks. Over here, flotsam like Nikita Lalwani's Gifted passes for exciting literature and makes the Booker longlist. While, off the top of my head, over in the States, the thirty year old Joshua Cohen has produced Witz, which is getting a lot of positive attention. Britain seems safe by comparison.

Of course, maybe I'm just not finding experimental British writers. I do need to look into those that appeared in Dalkey's Best European Fiction 2010..
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Old 18th Jun 2010, 14:10   #4
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Default Re: Telegraph's Best Of British Under 40

I tweeted this earlier with derisive commentary, but when someone challenged me (or maybe just asked me) to say who I would put in the list, I struggled. I suggested Tom McCarthy, who it turns out is 41.

Anyway, I don't object to them all - Zadie Smith probably deserves to be there, as does Adam Foulds. I enjoyed David Szalay's The Innocent, and I think he, Mohsin Hamid, Rana Dasgupta and Ross Raisin are all fair enough inclusions in that they show promise and will probably produce something more significant. And I do retain a soft spot for Dan Rhodes, though Little Hands Clapping was weak. And obviously I haven't read several of them.

But Chris Cleave? Pfft. And Paul Murray isn't British in any sense of the word.
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Old 18th Jun 2010, 23:39   #5
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Default Re: Telegraph's Best Of British Under 40

I've read fifteen of them. It's a shame they couldn't find room for Edward Hogan, whose prize-winning debut Blackmoor I thought was a real triumph.

I agree that there do seem to be some rather odd choices on the list.
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