Perhaps my opinion here owes much to the fact that I’m Canadian and therefore still subject to excessive colonial reverence for people with cool accents and universities that date to the 13th century who put all the “u”s in the proper places in the words! But people who love books in America are, in my opinion, overly focused on contemporary American authors. Contemporary American authors are, in my opinion, not necessarily doing the best and most interesting work in fiction today, if I’m to make generalizations. I’d much prefer picking up just about any living British novelist whose last name is not Amis. But often when I name these folks people haven’t heard of them, because so much of the American book marketing machine is steadily trained on the homegrown.
Here is my list of the novelists you must read to get up to snuff on British novel-writing. For authors who I perceive to already be big names in America — Ian MacEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Hilary Mantel — I tried to focus on lesser-known books.
Bonus: None of these novels are set in Brooklyn, and vanishingly few are about writers. There’s a whole other world out there.
Charlotte Mendelson, Almost English
Shortlisted for the Booker this year, Mendelson’s novel stuffs five women in a tiny apartment together and lets things devolve from there.