Many Asians on Granta’s 20 most promising young British novelists under 40 list


Tahmima Anam
Tahmima Anam

Granta has announced its  2013 list of 20 most promising young British novelists under 40. It is not surprising to see some writers of Asian origin making it to the list. They are:

Tahmima Anam (1975), whose Bengal Trilogy charts Bangladeshi history from the war of independence onwards.

Xiaolu Guo (1973) was shortlisted for the Orange prize for A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers.

Sunjeev Sahota (1981) is working on his second novel, The Year of the Runaways.

Kamila Shamsie (1973) has written five novels; the most recent, Burnt Shadows, was shortlisted for the Orange prize.

While both Kamila Shamsie and Tahmima Anam are well-known names in the world of fiction, Sunjeev Sahota, is relatively a new name. Sunjeev,  according to John Freeman, the editor of Granta, “had never read a novel until he was 18 – until he bought Midnight’s Children at Heathrow. He studied maths, he works in marketing and finance; he lives in Leeds, completely out of the literary world.”

Sahota’s first novel, Ours are the Streets, was about the journey to radicalisation of a young British Muslim. His forthcoming work, said Freeman, “is like his ninth novel, it’s such a huge leap forward”.

Freeman also lamented the names that could not appear because the writers were just over 40. He mentioned another genre-bender, the fantasy writer China Miéville, who turned 40 in September, as well asMohsin Hamid, Rana Dasgupta, Hisham Matar and Scarlett Thomas.

The panel considered whether to regard Shamsie as eligible. “She’s in the middle of becoming a British citizen, and the work is so strong it would have been facetious not to include her,” Freeman said.

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