Twelve of the Best New British Novelists

John Mullan and a panel of judges read piles of debut novels to uncover the state of British literary fiction today.

“The growth of British literary fiction has been one of the most extraordinary publishing phenomena of recent decades. Not everyone has been pleased. The label “literary fiction” is often used disparagingly, as if “literary” were synonymous with “pretentious” or “plot-free”. “The two most depressing words in the English language are ‘literary fiction’,” declared David Hare recently in this newspaper. Some like to say that there is no such thing: there are only good novels and bad novels. Yet authors and publishers and readers recognise that literary fiction exists and offers its own particular pleasures. Its surprising commercial health has given would-be novelists the confidence to experiment, to trust they can find readers interested in the new shapes fiction can take.” [Read The Guardian’s article here]

New Novelists: 12 of the Best, a Culture Show special, is on BBC2 at 9pm on 5 March and is part of Books on the BBC 2011. View webcast at: www.bbc.co.uk/tv/seasons/books.

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2 comments

  1. marlowe01267

    Literary novels are those that ask the reader to think. In that way they are parallel to classical music, which asks to listener to listen rather than merely to hear.

    Literary novels ask us to participated, to figure things out, to make connections, to reflect. These demands have no influece on whether plot is strong or central or whether it is the inner working s of character that intrigues us or whether it is the interactions of characters or motifs that made the book go.

    Some literary novels are great, and some aren’t. Most popular novels are far from great, but not all. Writers like Stoker, Turow, and King write respectable books.

    Literary novels can be popular. Dickens rote “best-sellers”. The poor troops in the trenchs of WWI read–and avidly–the novels of Jane Austen.

  2. marlowe01267

    Literary novels are those that ask the reader to think. In that way they are parallel to classical music, which asks the audience to listen rather than merely to hear.

    Literary novels ask us to participate, to figure things out, to make connections, to reflect. These demands have no influence on whether plot is strong or central or whether it is the inner working s of character that intrigues us or whether it is the interactions of characters or motifs that made the book go.

    Some literary novels are great, and some aren’t. Most popular novels are far from great, but not all. Writers like Stoker, Turow, and King write good books.

    Literary novels can be popular. Dickens wrote “best-sellers”. The poor troops in the trenches of WWI read–and avidly–the novels of Jane Austen.

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