Friday, June 18, 2010

20 Under 40 : US List vs. UK List


(Illustration from New Yorker magazine - U.S. authors on second list)


Could these be the U.K.'s 20 best authors under the age of 40? According to the Telegraph, they just might be:
1 Chris Cleave (b 1973) His first novel, Incendiary, was about a terrorist attack on London and was published on July 7, 2005. The Other Hand (2008), a cross-national thriller set in England and Nigeria, became a word-of-mouth hit.

2 Rana Dasgupta (b 1971) Born in Canterbury, but now lives in Delhi. His first collection of stories was set in a Tokyo airport; his first novel, Solo (2009), was about a 99-year-old Bulgarian chemist.

3 Adam Foulds (b 1974) After writing his verse novel The Broken Word about the Mau Mau rebellion, he wrote his Man Booker-shortlisted study of John Clare, The Quickening Maze (2009).

4 Sarah Hall (b 1974) The author of four novels, the first two of which were set in the early 20th century in her native Cumbria. Her most acclaimed work is The Carhullan Army (2007), about a band of women rebels surviving in a Britain hit by environmental disaster.

5 Steven Hall (b 1975) His debut novel, The Raw Shark Texts (2007) – about a man who loses his memory and tries to create a new identity for himself – unusually lived up to his publisher’s hype.

6 Mohsin Hamid (b 1971) The Reluctant Fundamentalist – a literary thriller about a Pakistani man who may, or may not, be a terrorist – came within a whisker of winning the Man Booker in 2007.

7 Anjali Joseph (b 1978) Her debut novel, Saraswati Park, is published next month. Sharp yet lyrical, the novel, which is set in Bombay, shows the influence of Amit Chaudhuri.

8 Joanna Kavenna (b 1974) Wrote seven unpublished novels before her eighth, Inglorious, was published by Faber and won the Orange new writers prize. Described as “Dostoevsky meets Bridget Jones”.

9 Benjamin Markovits (b 1973) Part way through a trilogy of novels about Byron and his circle, this assured writer has also just published an autobiographical novel, Playing Days, about a professional basketball player in Germany.

10 China Miéville (b 1972) Inspired by horror writers such as HP Lovecraft and Michael Moorcock, his science fiction and fantasy books – including Un Lun Dun for young adults – have legions of fans.

11 Paul Murray (b 1975) His second book, Skippy Dies, a comic novel set in a private boys school in Ireland, was recently described in the Telegraph as “gigantic, marvellous, witty…heartbreaking”.

12 Patrick Neate (b 1970) Won the Whitbread (now Costa) novel prize in 2001 for Twelve Bar Blues, a picaresque novel about New Orleans jazz artists. His most recent work, Jerusalem, deals, like his first novel, Musungu Jim, with European encounters with Africa.

13 Ross Raisin (b 1979) This Yorkshire-born novelist’s first book, God’s Own Country (2008), followed the dark story of a teenage farmer’s son living on the Moors.

14 Dan Rhodes (b 1972) After his second book, Rhodes declared he wanted to give up writing. Luckily for us he carried on with Gold (2007), about a Welsh-Japanese woman living in a coastal cottage, and his most recent book, Little Hands Clapping.

15 Kamila Shamsie (b1973) The author of five novels, mainly set in the Pakistan of her birth. Her most successful work is her latest: Burnt Shadows (1999) follows two families from the Second World War in Japan to the aftermath of 9/11.

16 Zadie Smith (b 1975) Wrote the wildly successful White Teeth while still at Cambridge. Her writing has matured since then, most notably in On Beauty (2005).

17 David Szalay (b1974) Winner of a Betty Trask Prize, Szalay’s The Innocent is told from the perspective of a KGB agent in late Forties Russia.

18 Adam Thirlwell (b 1978) Clever All Souls fellow who published Politics at the age of 25 and since then the Milan Kundera-inspired The Escape (2009).

19 Scarlett Thomas (b1972) The End of Mr Y (2007) was a surprise bestseller about a student who discovers a long-lost Victorian novel.

20 Evie Wyld (1980) After the Fire, a Still Small Voice (2009) was a haunting first novel set on the Australian East coat.
I read quite a few books each year that were first published in Britain so, when I first spotted the list, I fully expected to be familiar with at least four or five of the names. At the risk, of exposing the high degree of my ignorance about up and coming writers there, I am going to admit that I only recognized one name...one! I have a nice copy of Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist but it has been in my TBR stack for a long, long time (and it never seems to work its way to the top of the pile).

According to the article (take a look here), the list was put together, at least in part, as a response to a similar list that was published in the U.S. last week by the New Yorker magazine:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 32

Chris Adrian, 39

Daniel Alarcón, 33

David Bezmozgis, 37

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, 38

Joshua Ferris, 35

Jonathan Safran Foer, 33

Nell Freudenberger, 35

Rivka Galchen, 34

Nicole Krauss, 35

Dinaw Mengestu, 31

Philipp Meyer, 36

C E Morgan, 33

Téa Obreht, 24

Yiyun Li, 37

ZZ Packer, 37

Karen Russell, 28

Salvatore Scibona, 35

Gary Shteyngart, 37

Wells Tower, 37
I do a little better with the U.S. list (what would it say about me as a reader if I didn't?) by being familiar with Joshua Ferris, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss and Philipp Meyer, still just four of twenty up-and-comers.

The good news, I suppose, is that I now have a couple of good checklists to work from next time I'm looking for something fresh.

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