Meet the next generation of British writers
Introducing Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists
Every ten years since 1983, Granta magazine has appointed a panel of judges to select the twenty British novelists under the age of forty that promise to be the most significant of their generation. An anthology of their writing is published to accompany the list of novelists. Each list shines a spotlight on the literary stars of the future, announcing a set of extraordinary new talents, with new ways of seeing the world, and revealing new directions in British culture.
‘These young writers are the future of literature. Watch. History will prove me right.’– Bill Buford, editor of Granta, 1979–1995
On the 2023 judging panel were writers Tash Aw, Rachel Cusk, Brian Dillon and Helen Oyeyemi, chaired by Granta editor Sigrid Rausing.
Since it began in 1983, Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists selection has been seen as the barometer of Britain’s changing literary landscape. The first list featured writers like Kazuo Ishiguro, Salman Rushdie, Julian Barnes, Martin Amis and Pat Barker. Subsequent lists celebrated the work of Zadie Smith, Iain Banks, Ben Okri, Jeanette Winterson, Sarah Waters, Rachel Cusk and many more.
Explore the history of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists issues with insights from former editors Bill Buford, Ian Jack and John Freeman, as well as judges A.S. Byatt and Hilary Mantel.
To qualify for this instalment of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists selection, writers had to have been born in or after 1983, making all of them millennials. The list shows signs of a new literary culture that better represents the diversity of British society. Women dominate the list, which fully spans social classes and includes a number of writers who explore their own working-class backgrounds. The writers are geographically spread around the UK and, for the first time, authors living in the UK are included alongside British citizens.
Themes explored include: capitalism, migration, gang violence, xenophobia, surveillance, deceit, the pandemic, climate change and Ghanian folklore. The wide variety of settings include a football match in Wales, urban housing estates, and an unnamed island in a remote archipelago.
Writing in a time of anxiety, this diverse generation is strikingly unified in one way: all are interested in experimental visions of the future. This list showcases a forward-looking drive – the search for new possibilities, new alternatives, new hope.
In this content series, supported by the British Council, you will be able to discover more about the writers, hear from some of them and read or listen to extracts of their work.
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2022–23 we reached 600 million people.