Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists Showreel – Long

so can you tell me just a bit about the history of the list this is the fourth time that it's come out yes it is so it happens once every 10 years and the first list was in 1983 this year's list is made up of people who have are all British citizens but with roots from all over the world the stories are set in place is very often very far from the UK what does it mean to be a British novelist I think we only realized that the sort of the level of diversity after we'd finish at the 20 because we we had several meetings over the course of reading and with with this group of judges which you know which is quite carefully all sort of really quite serious readers or very opinionated people I think and then I hope that is reflected in the in the work that we've published that we were really focused on what is the best what's the most memorable what do we think is going to stand the test the test of time you know who do we think people would still want to be reading in 15 years time in 20-30 years time and where they were coming from didn't necessarily inform that there wasn't a you know there weren't numbers that we had to fill saying we needed people from here or we need a you know man or woman or whatever else it was really about the works and stayed with us and I think that that diversity free can call it that really has to do with the times that we live in people are from everywhere they've they're people who are succeeding at all levels of our society who come from other places as well as people who have you know generations generation of their roots in England and I think it just reflects how we read and how how how we engage with stories or we're not limited by geography in a way that we may have been 50 years ago this year granta has partnered with audible UK to bring out the best young British novelist list for the first time in audio why now it's a special thrill for me because I'm a huge fan of audiobooks I think it's because we were we've been thinking a lot in the last couple of years about the different ways of people consume story if I can put it that way way that we we read on our iPads we you know people read on kindle and people also listen to podcasts and the growth of all of those different platforms really made us take a look at how far and wide we could get this collection of writers a list that we're very proud of and audio seemed a natural way to take to take it forward when you have a professional reader reading them the little scenes a little bits that the come to life in a way that make me feel I'm owning the book again which is really quite precious it's very important to me how the sound of words works so when I'm writing I always try to stop and read everything out to get a sound of it because there are things that the I won't catch when you're reading off the page which the ear will catch so to sit in a booth reading my work loud feels very familiar because it's it's what I do off the printed page it's strange to know someone will hear me reading out loud because there are inflections that I'll put into it which I know I want to be in there but I know that someone else who's reading it might might inflict a phrase differently so I feel I'm sort of guiding the reading in in doing sort of my version of how it would sound as the words on the page don't I think reading a story aloud to get to a group of people is a fantastic kind of school I think that you can let yourself on the page allow yourself little kind of foliage of kind of description and digressions or kind of little moments that you're incredibly proud of but where once you're reading it aloud you realize that you've suddenly lost everybody's interest and so the discipline of reading something aloud to people i really love actually that i've always liked doing readings to people because it's one of the best ways of actually kind of critiquing your own work and it's the best way of realizing what a strange performance writing is because it's this kind of silent kind of talking which so it sort of makes no sense it slightly becomes too overt when you're actually in a room with p and then at the same time just the silent page is not quite right either when I think about the difference between writing being read and writing being spoken I think about how private and how personal it is to read something on the page when when anyone reads anything silently it's in that person's voice and so at the end of the day there there really is no common experience of a book when it's read within and I and I know this now my novel was published today and I was thinking that everyone who who buys it god bless them all is going to read it to themselves in their head in a completely different voice a then that in which I wrote it and be then one to the next when by contrast you read something out loud you bring a commonality to the experience something that has been very private despite the fact that we've you know when we've read books in common we speak with great enthusiasm and great sense of community about the plot only when something is read out loud does the experience of the of the language become become common one reason i like reading is that I feel like it gives me a chance to tell people how to read what I've written and I can emphasize how slowly I want to go for example or the tone of voice in which something is said and the eye passes very very quickly over the page and lots of details that I spent hours putting in can get lost even for a good reader and so when I've got a room full of people there i can say this is how I want it to be read this house this is how slowly it should be read these are the things i want to bring out of it well actually I in the past are only read is the the the paper the paper book of course he owns a classical book but recently I read all the books I have read for example those big ones like master margarita or war and peace all these big books on the audio and I think it's complete different dimension as if someone speaking to you so it's kind of you as author you think actually you should write differently in a way because audience or readers read very differently there's a very particular kind of potency I think about the experience of hearing literature read either live or in recordings that has to do with the presence of another human being of the source of this stuff often when it's you know when it's the author reading and the power often resides I think in the silences in the way that people are pulled in towards to hearing this stuff as it kind of unfolds and unfolds in real time and these images are kind of made in their minds it's a very interesting live experience that is different too certainly not better than the experience of reading a book of that particular kind of hypnotic bond between the reader and the object of the book i really love listening to audiobooks they are my favorite thing when i'm making a long car journey or when i'm doing a lot of tidying up or doing the washing-up or hanging out I just yeah I really love having them on and being surrounded by books in that way being on the grantor list is an amazing um it's an amazing feeling it feels like lots of different things have coincided to you know my age and getting my books out at the right time and it feels like a huge amount of luck and I'm incredibly grateful when I got the call from grandeur I was in my flat in Rome and I remember Ella after a long pause pregnant bars pregnant with twins pause sedim day are you still there standing with frozen espresso in one hand vote in the other and I said no I'm so yeah I just I don't I just don't I don't believe it and so I was so I still haven't just I feel so blessed and fortunate and honored to join not just the writers on this list but I'm those on the on the past three and this phenomenal tradition of of grantors I really do so when I got the call to say I was on the ground to list I was at home and at my desk and you know I got gold from john freeman who's the editor grant and of course you know whatever anyone might say all the writers knew that around this time grantor was making its decision so you know as soon as you hear John's voice you sort of think it can only be for this reason he's not gonna call and say you're not on the writ listened yet you know until he quite gets to saying this is why I'm calling you don't want to jump the gun and believe it but it was wonderful you know I grew up in in Karachi and my mother used to subscribe to grantor arrived from London you know every few months and sometimes it wouldn't arrive because the mail would go astray and that would be a terrible thing and so I you know I grew up on the other side of the world with with grantors this kind of lodestone my overriding emotion is just wanting to know who the other ninety not because they haven't told us yet so I'm really looking forward to finding that out but also of course it is a huge privilege and really exciting that just to be on it myself so being on the list it's wonderful and there's something slightly intimidating about it I have wanted to be on that list probably since the last time the list came out and I was doing my masters in creative writing and I saw the magazine and I just like ah that would be amazing imagine being on that list ah so it has been it's very special to me to be on it's also there's something challenging about it where you go alright so i really have to take myself seriously then it's like there's sort of your outline turns out to be larger than you thought it was and you're gonna have to step up into that and yeah take yourself seriously this is because well i'm not a comedy writer but i suppose i tend towards it and so taking myself seriously as a bit of a challenge for me but I'm ready I think what one of the hard things for a young writer for any writer to work out is how to bridge the gap between their own sense of their law and the books that they have read because most people feel that their lives are pretty uneventful and most people feel that the books they like are full of events so how do we translate from the one to the other and I try my work to come as close as I can to the uneventful pneus of my own life so then I think about what are the things that shaped me little conversations that I remember shifts and allegiance moments that depress me that set off a chain of reflection that's the kind of thing I like to write about and that's what I put in the book when I write I think I definitely prefer to go to somewhere that I don't know I've some reason I find it much easier to create scenarios in a in a place that I I know and I don't know so somali i have residual memories of from my childhood and it's those kind of more atmospheric memories that feed into my work rather than the day-to-day detail of the life that I have now I find that those older memories are much more useful with me with my writing often is come to thing one is going to intellectual inspiration which is from those literature I love the books i love the novelist our love was a cinema love so that kind of inspiration which is kind of abstract intellectual stylistic inspiration and then another one is really a real-life inspiration is how I i went through say last year my life in burling or how I lived in China for the last 30 years those kind of detail experience composer inspiration but which is kind of like the foundation of the storytelling so these two things constructed the minority and of course I can say you know like poet poet often got inspired by one singular thing or an apple on the tree or a storm on the road these are the kind of sparkles during our you're constructing of your narrative but I don't know if that can culture as a whole big narrative from that so with me real life experience is most fundamental thing the two main poles of influence for this number when I respect it where william gibson's recent visual and trilogy starting with pattern recognition and then on the other hand Updike's rabbit books and i wanted to write something which was as contemporary and as plot e and as like and that had its face pressed as closely against the surface of the 21st century as william gibson's books d because i think those books especially pattern recognition and some of their like greatest and most under heralded achievements in fiction in the time that I've been reading but then also because I work was writing about so I've learned in which I love so much I wanted to you know my aspiration would be to do for Peckham what I'd like does for Brewer the book emerged from two different images one was of an older woman who is in bed and can't leave her bed she can or she can't walk another one was of a little girl who's kind of a Goldilocks and she's going from house to house eating their food and sleeping in their bed but in a war so those were the sensual kind of images for me that everything else was built around yes 0 in the story there are no names of the principal characters and they're not gendered either which I suppose is to do with the abstractness of the story primarily and and and wanting it to keep it quite vague and ambiguous the stories is very ambiguous I think and fuzzy that the people of the town are named often and exactly and keep the same characters crop up through it and I think part of that is to do with they find a role in this submerged memory of the story that is different to their role in the actual event but they did have they were part of the actual events of people is it there's a character Eddie took in the story whoo-hoo we infer has had something to do with or he was present and the way in which the main characters memory has taken that has retained the Eddie took pneus of it but he's put him in a slightly different different role all the different version

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