Hilary Mcgrath’s Reviews > Granta 123: The Best of Young British Novelists 4
by Granta: The Magazine of New Writing, John Freeman
I listened to the audio version and realise that one of the downsides of listening (as opposed to reading) is that it’s hard to spell the names of the characters in the stories for review purposes.
Most memorable stories:
Tahmina Anam: Anwar gets everything
The story of Indians brought to work on building sites in Dubai. We get a glimpse into their living conditions, the demands to send money home, their difficult working life. One of the workmen thinks he is entitled to more–a girlfriend, air-conditioning, trips to the cinema–but ends up washing windows on a swaying platform on one of the highest buildings in the middle of a sandstorm. Anwar advises him not to look down.
Naomi Alderman: Soon and in our days
I loved this tongue-in-cheek tale, a humorous piece about Judaism in Britain, which makes us think about religion in society. Praying to the Prophet Elijah, we have a sneak preview of what would happen if he did come down on Earth. It’s not often that I actually LOL when reading, but I did here. A memorable line about Greta, who didn’t like goat’s cheese. I need to read more from this author. Listening to her podcast on the Granta website, I believe she is now mentored by Margaret Atwood. Looking forward to reading more.
David Szalay: Europa
Told through the eyes of a Hungarian immigrant as he accepts a job as minder for Emma, this is a fascinating insight into his world. Emma is brought to a hotel for her first job as a prostitute. The minder reflects on his role, while attracted too to Emma, and sits with Emma’s boyfriend in the car waiting.
Evie Wyld: After the Hedland
Set in the Aussie outback among sheep shearers, the main character, a woman, tells of the tough existence and the difficulty of being a woman in this world. She is running away from something so she has no choice but to stick with what the outback throws at her. Looking forward to reading the finished novel.
Adam Thirlwell: Slow Motion
Written in conversational style, the main character really takes the reader into his head. ‘What I thought was this…’ We know his every thought as he tries to dispose of a girl’s body, a girl who he woke up with but doesn’t remember going to bed with.
Sanjeev Sahota: Arrivals
Indians working and living in a cramped flats in Sheffield. Most of them are illegal and know they have no choice but to accept the worst jobs with toughest conditions. The main character got married in order to have a proper visa but doesn’t dare suggest to his wife that they move in together. He describes his days making chapatti before work, sharing the house, buying supplies from different shops to avoid chances of being caught as illegals in Britain. They go to work in van in the freezing cold, yet are thrilled to see snow for the first time. There is respect for elders, and a curiosity to know from which region in India each new person comes. I was totally engrossed in this story and am looking forward to completed novel.
Many other stories and authors worth reading in this collection.