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Granta 119: Britain (Granta: The Magazine of New Writing) [Kindle Edition]

John Freeman
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Review

The Paul Smith-designed cover shows a chipped and cracked tea cup, its broken-off handle lying beside it. The implied idea the break-down of respectability is nicely in keeping with the collection's overall tone . . . There's a beautifully measured Jon McGregor story about the aftermath of a young girl's disappearance from a northern village; a visceral, pulsating account of a badger baiting by Cynan Jones; and a funny but vicious story set in a shambolic household of meds dealers by Adam Foulds. Mark Haddon's superb 'The Gun' about two boys misbehaving with a Remington in the woods works a similar terrain . . . There is also a series of arresting photographs on the theme of 'Home' including Leonie Hampton's haunting assemblage and several poems, including Simon Armitage's very fine 'The Making of the English Landscape' --Will Skidelsky, Observer New Review

In his superb account of walking along the Essex coast's Broomway Britain's deadliest offshore pathway Robert Macfarlane captures the eerie dislocation of the mist creeping in as it leaves walkers stranded . . . In his hard-edged childhood memoir, Gary Younge points to the alienation of life as the son of Barbadian immigrants and of growing up in a leafless postwar-planned environment . . .Britain s ever-shifting landscape, every piece here cannily conveys, is one in which it is not always possible to feel safely, snugly at home. --Robert Collins, Sunday Times

The recent editions of Granta have all done what a good literary magazine should: showcase the newest by the best authors and the best by the newest authors . . . There are excellent evocations of rural Wales (in Cynan Jones 'The Dig') of Scotland in 1964 in Robin Robertson's poem named after that year, of Ireland under British rule . . . What is fascinating is seeing how the writers here describe England . . I'd single out the work by Robert Macfarlane and Don Paterson as among the most exciting. --Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

Product Description

In 2012, Britain is a nation in flux, managing difficult socioeconomic realities, contending with new political alliances and negotiating shifting demographics. Yet it is still perceived as being bound by tradition and class structures. With new fiction, memoir, poetry, photography and art, Granta's Britain explores landscape, identities and stories of the British Isles.

In 'Silt', Robert Macfarlane writes of the beauty, danger and mystery of a stretch of coastline in Essex. Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa tells the story of Irish nationalist Roger Casement, executed at Pentonville Prison in 1916. Memoirs by Gary Younge, Andrea Stuart and Nikolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada focus on the upheavals and migrations that brought them and their families to (and from) Britain. Rachel Seiffert, Ross Raisin, Cynan Jones and Jim Crace provide extracts of new novels: Seiffert describes Glasgow and Northern Ireland in the 1990s; Raisin paints a portrait of a young footballer struggling with his identity; Jones follows a boy on a brutal and transformative outing with his father and their dogs; Crace shows how the lives of English farmers changed drastically during the early Enclosures.

The issue includes original short fiction by Adam Foulds, Mark Haddon, Tania James and Jon McGregor as well as poems by Simon Armitage, Jamie McKendrick, Don Paterson and Robin Robertson. It also introduces a new voice, Sam Byers, with an extract from his darkly comic debut novel, Idiopathy.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4117 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Magazine (10 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007UPGOQC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #165,050 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of the more surprising aspects of Granta's "Britain" edition is the dominance of fiction here. Given the subject matter, one might have expected Granta's non-fiction pieces to be more in evidence, but thankfully the quality of the fiction here is generally of a high standard.

The subject matter varies, as does the time frame. In non-fiction terms both Gary Younge's opening piece on growing up in the new town of Stevenage and Andrea Stuart's look at what it was like for a teenage girl to be transported from the Carribean to live in the UK and the racism she encountered are both beautifully written and thoughtful pieces. I confess that I'm somewhat at a loss to how Nikolai Khalezin and Natalia Kalida's piece on the Belarus Free Theatre fits within an edition entitled "Britain" though.

In fiction terms, the best pieces for me are by those I was not expecting to enjoy so much, while those I was looking forward to reading, largely left me disappointed. Adam Foulds' "Dreams of a Leisure Society" is a story of a dreamer, scrounger, drug adict and Jon McGregor's piece on a missing child on the moors are satisfying enough without being particularly memorable. The usually reliable Jim Crace extract entitled "Enclosure" did nothing for me though.

For me the stand out fiction, and certainly the most enjoyable to read, is the darkly funny "Some Other Katherine" by Sam Byers. He perfectly captures the character of his lead character and her rather dreary life and sordid romantic encounters. "Lion and Panther in London", a story of two Indian wrestlers by Tania James also stayed with me longer than others here. Mark Haddon's "The Gun" is a story of childhood adventures with, well you've guessed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, thought-provoking collection 5 Jan 2013
By Chasm
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
One of the best Grantas I can remember. Not a weak link in it. Not a single writer that I'd heard of (well, OK, Tom Stoppard, but that's only a foreword) and every one of them I shall be looking out for from now on. Buy it!
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...coastlines have become ghostlines..." 17 May 2012
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
You could take the first and last pieces of writing in this edition of Granta (one (by Gary Younge)is an account of growing up as a young black man in the commuter town of Stevenage, the other (by Adam Foulds) a story about a would-be deep-sea diver with a drug problem) as symptoms of the strange malady of being British.

Often the British would prefer to be English, Scottish, Irish or Welsh, but what about Scottish and Black, or Irish and Chinese? To be British is to be part of an unravelling garment that no one wants to wear. I'm English, but I could claim other allegiances - I have two Irish grandmothers, so there's some Celtic blood in there too, and some other ancestors have peculiar lineages. Neverthless, I am white, implacably and profoundly, I feel, and as a result I am terminally unfashionable. A bit like Ross Raisin's footballer in 'When You Grow Into Yourself' and like Roger Casement, I suppose, who is the subject of Maria Vargas Llosa's short story 'The Celt' some things are counted as shameful, even when they are not.

In one sense everything collected here might be termed history, or perhaps geo-history, something anyway that refers to ways of living that have been experienced in defiance of all that might be described as good or even entirely sane. In 'Enclosure' by Jim Crace, changes to the land are plotted as two men watch the harvest being gathered in; the truth dawns that the master of these fields means, "against his promises" to enclose the land, clear the commons and turn the fields over to sheep. In 'The Dig', by Cynan Jones, being an ordinary, gangling teenager whose father takes you badger hunting, is a long-standing practice, the `skills' handed down, no matter how much the civilised majority and uninitiated wish it to be stopped.
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1 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for the unwary 11 Jun 2012
By Ash
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Bought this, having found the preview really interesting. Wasn't prepared for the sudden obscenity of one of the other articles. Couldn't delete it quick enough.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! 7 Nov 2013
By Larry A. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have subscribed to Granta for almost thirty years, and it is, without a doubt, the very best literary magazine
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly heavy on fiction given the title - but generally high standard 13 May 2013
By Ripple - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One of the more surprising aspects of Granta's "Britain" edition is the dominance of fiction here. Given the subject matter, one might have expected Granta's non-fiction pieces to be more in evidence, but thankfully the quality of the fiction here is generally of a high standard.

The subject matter varies, as does the time frame. In non-fiction terms both Gary Younge's opening piece on growing up in the new town of Stevenage and Andrea Stuart's look at what it was like for a teenage girl to be transported from the Carribean to live in the UK and the racism she encountered are both beautifully written and thoughtful pieces. I confess that I'm somewhat at a loss to how Nikolai Khalezin and Natalia Kalida's piece on the Belarus Free Theatre fits within an edition entitled "Britain" though.

In fiction terms, the best pieces for me are by those I was not expecting to enjoy so much, while those I was looking forward to reading, largely left me disappointed. Adam Foulds' "Dreams of a Leisure Society" is a story of a dreamer, scrounger, drug adict and Jon McGregor's piece on a missing child on the moors are satisfying enough without being particularly memorable. The usually reliable Jim Crace extract entitled "Enclosure" did nothing for me though.

For me the stand out fiction, and certainly the most enjoyable to read, is the darkly funny "Some Other Katherine" by Sam Byers. He perfectly captures the character of his lead character and her rather dreary life and sordid romantic encounters. "Lion and Panther in London", a story of two Indian wrestlers by Tania James also stayed with me longer than others here. Mark Haddon's "The Gun" is a story of childhood adventures with, well you've guessed it. Also intriguing is Mario Vargas Llosa's "The Celt", an extract from a novel about a man in the early 1900s who is imprisoned for helping the Irish cause.

If you prefer the non-fiction elements of Granta, this might be one to avoid, but overall, it's an interesting collection that covers a lot of aspects of British-ness.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Granta is always must-read 23 Mar 2014
By True Shopper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Incredible, dense. I don't know why don't subscribe. These editors are doing a great job. Like great sex, good written material lasts a lifetime.
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