Granta: Britain's best young novelists - at a glance


A brief guide to Granta Best of Young British Novelists list 2013.

The literary magazine has revealed its once-a-decade list of the 20 most promising British writers under 40.

Two of the authors - Zadie Smith and Adam Thirlwell - appeared on the previous Granta list in 2003.

The 2013 list features six debut novelists, and includes computer game writers, an ex-professional basketball player, a metal sculptor and a writer who also runs a small independent bookshop.


image captionNaomi Alderman

Naomi Alderman (1974) is the author of three novels: Disobedience, The Lessons and The Liars' Gospel. She also writes and designs computer games, including alternate reality game Perplex City (2004-2007) and last year she co-created the fitness game app game and audio adventure Zombies, Run!

In 2011 she also wrote Doctor Who tie-in novel Borrowed Time, featuring Matt Smith's incarnation of the Time Lord. She is currently working on her fourth novel.


image captionTahmima Anam

Tahmima Anam was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1975. She is the author of the Bengal Trilogy, which chronicles three generations of the Haque family from the Bangladesh war of independence to the present day.

Her debut novel, A Golden Age, was awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book. It was followed in 2011 by The Good Muslim. The final instalment of the trilogy, Shipbreaker, is published in 2014.


image captionNed Beauman

Ned Beauman (1985) was born in London and currently lives in New York. His debut novel, Boxer, Beetle, won the Goldberg Prize for Outstanding Debut Fiction and the Writers' Guild Award for Best Fiction Book.

His second novel, The Teleportation Accident, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. His third novel, Glow, is published in 2014.


image captionJenni Fagan

Jenni Fagan (1977) is an author, and poet, based in Portobello - a seaside town near Edinburgh. Her debut novel, The Panopticon, was published in 2012 and named one of the Waterstones Eleven, a selection of the best fiction debuts of the year. Her poetry collection The Dead Queen of Bohemia was named 3:AM magazine's Poetry Book of the Year.

She works as a writer in residence in hospitals and prisons. Her art installation, The Scold's Bridle, was built out of steel sheets which she spent months engraving with words written by women prisoners.


image captionAdam Foulds

Adam Foulds (1974) is a poet and novelist from London. He has published two novels, The Truth About These Strange Times and The Quickening Maze; and The Broken Word, a narrative poem set during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya at the end of British imperial rule. He is the recipient of a number of literary awards, including the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, the Costa Poetry Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the South Bank Show Prize for Literature.

The Quickening Maze was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2009. His new novel, In the Wolf's Mouth, is published in 2014.


image captionXiaolu Guo

Xiaolu Guo (1973) studied at the Beijing Film Academy and received her MA from the National Film School in London. She has published seven novels in both English and Chinese. A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her other novels include UFO in Her Eyes and 20 Fragments of a Ravenous Youth. She directed the award-winning films She, a Chinese and Once Upon a Time Proletarian. Her forthcoming novel is called I Am China.


image captionSarah Hall

Sarah Hall (1974) was born in Cumbria and lives in Norwich, Norfolk. She is the author of four novels: Haweswater, The Electric Michelangelo (shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2004), The Carhullan Army and How to Paint a Dead Man (longlisted for the Man Booker in 2009 and winner of the Portico Prize for Fiction 2010).

Her first collection of short stories, titled The Beautiful Indifference, was published by Faber & Faber in 2011, and won the Portico Prize for Fiction 2012.


image captionSteven Hall

Steven Hall was born in Derbyshire in 1975. His first novel, The Raw Shark Texts, won the Borders Original Voices Award and the Somerset Maugham Award. He has written for Granta Magazine, Lonely Planet and Doctor Who audio adventures.

In 2007 he was listed as one of the Waterstones 25 Authors for the Future and, in 2010, the Daily Telegraph named him as one of Britain's best 20 British novelists under 40. His upcoming second novel is The End of Endings which is described as "an infinite text about the death of print and linear narrative".


image captionJoanna Kavenna

Joanna Kavenna (1973) grew up in various parts of Britain and has also lived in the US, France, Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic States. She is the author of three novels: Inglorious, The Birth of Love and Come to the Edge. Her one work of non-fiction, The Ice Museum, was about travelling in the remote North. In 2008 she was awarded the Orange Prize for New Writing.

She has held writing fellowships at St Antony's College, Oxford and St John's College, Cambridge. She was named as one of the Telegraph's 20 Writers under 40 in 2010.


image captionBenjamin Markovits

Benjamin Markovits (1973) grew up in London, Oxford, Texas and Berlin. According to his biography, he left "an unpromising career as a professional basketball player to study the Romantics". Since then he has taught high-school English, worked at a left-wing cultural magazine and published six novels, including a trilogy on the life of Lord Byron.

Markovits has lived in London since 2000 and is married with a daughter and a son. He teaches creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.


image captionNadifa Mohamed

Nadifa Mohamed (1981) was born in Somalia and moved to Britain in 1986. Her first novel, Black Mamba Boy, published in 2010, was longlisted for the Orange Prize. She was educated in London and studied History and Politics at Oxford. In 2008, she returned for the first time to her birthplace Hargeisa, now in the new Republic of Somaliland. She lives in London and is working on her second novel, The Orchard of Lost Souls.


image captionHelen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi (1984) is the author of four novels. The first two were The Icarus Girl and The Opposite House.

Her third novel, White is for Witching, was awarded a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award, and her fourth, Mr Fox, won the 2012 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Award. Her new novel Boy, Snow, Bird is published in 2014.


image captionRoss Raisin

Ross Raisin (1979) was born in Silsden, West Yorkshire. He completed the Creative Writing MA at Goldsmiths in 2004, and wrote his first novel, God's Own Country, while working as a waiter in Bristol and London.

Published in 2008, it was awarded the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2009. His second novel, Waterline, was published in 2011.


image captionSunjeev Sahota

Sunjeev Sahota (1981) was born in Derby and currently lives in Leeds with his wife and daughter.

His first novel, Ours are the Streets, was published in 2011. he is working on his second novel, The Year of the Runaways, which is forthcoming from Picador.


image captionTaiye Selasi

Taiye Selasi (1979) was born in London to Nigerian and Ghanaian parents. She holds a BA from Yale and an MPhil from Oxford. Selasi made her fiction debut in Granta in 2011 with The Sex Lives of African Girls, which was selected for Best American Short Stories in 2012. Her first novel, Ghana Must Go, was published in March 2013. An avid traveller and documentary photographer, Selasi lives in Rome.


image captionKamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie (1973) is the author of five novels. The first, In the City by the Sea, was published by Granta Books in 1998 and shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Other novels are Kartography, Salt and Saffron and Broken Verses.

Her most recent novel, Burnt Shadows, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction . She grew up in Karachi and now lives in London. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a trustee of English PEN and a member of the Authors Cricket Club.


image captionZadie Smith

Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975. She is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man and On Beauty, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2005 and won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2006. Her most recent novel is NW, chosen as one of the Ten Best Books of 2012 by the New York Times.

She was one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists in 2003. She also edited the collection of contemporary short fiction The Book of Other People, and wrote Changing My Mind, a collection of personal and cultural essays.


image captionDavid Szalay

David Szalay (1974) was born in Canada. His family moved to the UK soon after, and he now lives in London.

His first novel, London and the South-East, won the Betty Trask Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. His second novel, The Innocent (2009), and Spring (2011) were published by Jonathan Cape. He is currently working on a number of new projects.


image captionAdam Thirlwell

Adam Thirlwell (1978) was born in London. His first novel, Politics, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2003. In the same year, Granta placed him on its list of the Best Young British Novelists.

A book on the art of the novel, Miss Herbert, was published in 2007, and won a Somerset Maugham Award. His second novel, The Escape, was published in 2009. He has also written a novella, Kapow!


image captionEvie Wyld

Evie Wyld (1980) runs Review, a small independent bookshop in Peckham, south-east London. Her first novel, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award.

In 2011, she was listed as one of the Culture Show's Best New British Novelists. She was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her second novel, All the Birds, Singing, is due out in June.

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