Ten years after the success of the 1983 Best of Young British Novelists issue, four judges - A.S. Byatt, Salman Rushdie, bookseller John Mitchinson and Granta editor Bill Buford - set out to identify twenty more young and promising writers. The list introduced astonishing emerging talents: Alan Hollinghurst, Will Self, Hanif Kureishi, A.L. Kennedy and many more. A widely varied anthology including novel extracts and stories that showcase a generation of writers coming into its own.
Editors included Salman Rushdie and A.S. Byatt.
However, the problem with this concept is that great novelists don't tend to be great short-story writers. Many of the writers included have simply contributed excerpts from longer works, which tend to feel unfinished and abrupt. I was particularly disappointed in the Iain Banks selection - a brief snippet from 'Complicity,' which I've already read.
In the introduction, Granta's editor notes that a collection like this is really an advertisement to get people to buy novels. (It also served to make me glad, yet again, that I opted not to work in publishing, but that's another issue). Most of the selections weren't intriguing enough to get me to seek out a book - but Anne Billson's story may be an exception. I also liked Louis de Bernières charming-if-sentimental, seemingly autobiographical piece, and the Kazuo Ishiguro screenplay made the whole thing worthwhile.