Every 10 years the literary magazine Granta publishes a list of the “Best of Young British Novelists”. It’s a list of what their panel of judges consider the 20 most interesting novelists of the time. By “young” they mean 40 or under and by “British” they mean having a British passwort.

In 1983 the list included people like Salman Rushdie, Julian Barnes, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Pat Barker, Rose Tremain, Graham Swift, William Boyd and Kazuo Ishiguro. In 1993 Ishiguro was still on the list and he’d been joined by names like Iain Banks, Louis de Bernieres, Alan Hollinghurst, Hanif Kureishi, Ben Okri, Will Self and Jeanette Winterson.

I can’t really remember who I had heard of (much less read) when I first read the two previous lists. I do know that the 2003 list announced today contains only three authors who I’ve heard of (Zadie Smith, Rachel Cusk and Alan Warner) and that I’ve never read any of them (althought we do have copies of both of Zadie Smith’s novels which I need to get round to reading).

I guess it’s just evidence that I’m concentrating too much on the technical side of my life. There’s more to live than being a geek.

It’s also a bit galling to realise that even if I ever get a novel published, I’ll be too old to be on BOYBN list.

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