When some three years ago, during a lazy afternoon in Beijing’s Bookworm café (still on the old premises), I laid my hands on a copy of Granta No. 42, an issue from the year 1992 with the evocative title “Krauts!”, I subsequently decided to never again buy or read any copy of this renowned literary magazine.
Editor Bill Buford had dedicated No. 42 to nothing less than an evaluation of the “New Germany”, but all he had found to focus upon were the recent ugly events of Rostock-Lichtenhagen. With this narrow mindset, a rather uninspired and clueless selection of texts, and an outrightly insulting cover blurb, Granta 42 was one of the worst and stupidest books I’d ever seen.
But yesterday I had to betray my resolution. Granta is celebrating its 100th issue. Guest editor is one of my favorite writers: William Boyd. The cover has been designed by one of my favorite painters: David Hockney. And the content is absolutely first-rate, with many established names like Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan, Hanif Kureishi and even Harold Pinter, but also some less-known authors to keep the selection alive. Makes for wonderful late-night reading.