Lists are a contentious issue. If you haven’t yet woken up to the news about the Granta’s 2013 Best Young British Novelists then here’s a link to the Guardian piece. A while ago now on Twitter, Roopa Farooki and Nikesh Shukla were talking about the Granta list, Roopa Farooki suggested a Best Young Asian Novelists which I thought was a fab idea (at the time!) and said I would draw up a list. But having spent such a long time reading the work of both new and established writers I found myself in a muddle (as I often do) of whether to include both. I have only included one of these names, Deepa Anappara, who won our short story competition last year and the decision is based on reading the 50 pages or so of her unpublished novel. And of course there is another writer on the list without a published novel to their name, but whose first book was such a delight he simply couldn’t be missed off.
There was also the matter of nationalities to worry about, and whether to include only British writers or those at home. I felt I couldn’t exclude the wealth of talent of writers further afield so have a more global list and I think it’s better for it (I’m not sure we have enough British Asian novelists under the age of 40 anyway).
I followed Granta’s list of classifying Best Young Novelists to include only writers under the age of 40. Because I didn’t have d.o.b’s I omitted writers born in 1973. This meant Kamila Shamsie (who is on Granta’s BYB 2013 list) and Niven Govinden were not up for consideration (sadly). Also worth mentioning the wonderful Rana Dasgupta and Kiran Desai also just missed out as they’re both 41.
As you can probably work out by now the process wasn’t easy and as editor of this magazine, I can’t say I still feel I’ve read widely enough to carry off a task of this magnitude so do feel free to respond appropriately if you feel that somebody has been unjustly cast aside. There will be some surprises, of course, but I don’t think a list is much fun without them.
13 BEST YOUNG ASIAN NOVELISTS