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Granta

Have you ever wondered what determines the fate of an author in the literary world? Well, the 129th issue of the British-based literary magazine Granta explores the idea of fate from the perspective of 22 different authors. The magazine also offers a favorable future to authors published in its pages. Numerous writers published in Granta magazine and by Granta Books have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature and the prestigious Booker Prize.

Originally founded in 1899 as a Cambridge University student periodical, Granta was revamped in the 1970s and went on to shape the course of literary history. The publication is known for introducing young writers from around the world to the center of the literary sphere through its "Best of Young" series.

Granta, Magazine Photography, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Granta publishes both fiction and nonfiction works including memoirs, essays, and photojournalism—the communication of news through photos.

Granta Overview Summary

Granta is a literary magazine based in the United Kingdom. The magazine is published quarterly, featuring both fiction and non-fiction works by various authors in an aesthetically pleasing book format. It publishes new literary fiction, memoirs, journalistic writing, photography, and poetry from authors around the world. Granta is known for its enduring balance of consistent quality and inspiring originality. Each issue’s title presents a theme that is represented by the various authors’ works.

What are some of the themes of Granta's issues?

The issues of Granta are based on themes addressing a particular aspect of life or genre of writing from the perspective of several authors. Here are some examples of the publication's focuses:

  • Granta 160: Conflict (2022) focuses on the war in Ukraine and internal and external conflicts.
  • Granta 157: Should We Have Stayed at Home? New Travel Writing (2021) features travel writing and explores the idea of embracing being a stranger in a land that is another person’s home.
  • Granta 150: There Must Be Ways to Organise the World with Language (2020) focuses on celebrating the English language through inventive fiction.
  • Granta 129: Fate (2014) explores the idea of fate from the perspective of 22 different writers.
  • Granta 77: What We Think of America (2002) examines the role America has played in the lives of 24 different authors.
  • Granta 1: New American Writing (1979) features the best American writers of the 1970s including William Gass, Joyce Carol Oates, Donald Barthelme, and Susan Sontag.

Which Granta issue sounds the most interesting to you?

The literary magazine is known for discovering authors and presenting their writings to the world with a stamp of credibility. Since its establishment in 1899, Granta has published 27 Nobel Prize winners. In addition, Granta has published authors who have won literary prizes including the Booker Prize, the Whitbread Prize, the Forward Prize, the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the Pushcart Prize.

The Founders of Granta

Granta was founded in 1889 and was revived in the late 1970s.

The first founders of Granta were Cambridge University students. The magazine, originally known as The Granta, was a student literary magazine that focused on politics, witty conversations, and literary works such as short fiction, poetry, and reviews.

Granta, River Cam, StudySmarterFig. 2 - The magazine was named after the River Granta, which flows into the River Cam. The River Cam passes through Cambridge University.

The first editor of the magazine was R.C. Lehmann. Lehmann was a Cambridge student who went on to become a well-known British politician and writer. He frequently contributed to the British humor and satire magazine Punch. Other early editors of the magazine include the English academic and famous cricket player R.P. Keigwin and the World War I poet and writer Edward Shanks.

In 1979, the magazine was relaunched after great financial difficulties and a lack of student interest and submissions. The Cambridge postgraduate students Bill Buford and Peter de Bolla founded the new phase of Granta, which aimed to publish the best new writers from around the world, rather than simply focusing on student submissions.

Bill Buford was the editor of Granta for 16 years, and his passion and originality greatly shaped the face and success of the magazine. Being an American, Buford reached out to many American authors for the first relaunch issue, broadening the scope of writers featured in Granta.

Bill Buford is an American journalist and author who worked as an editor for the Fiction section of The New Yorker. Peter de Bolla is a professor at Cambridge University who teaches classes in cultural history and aesthetics.

Origin and History of Granta

Granta began as a Cambridge University student magazine called The Granta. The Granta was a periodical highlighting student politics, badinage, and literary works, such as prose and poetry.

Badinage is humorous, witty conversation, or banter.

The original student magazine published the juvenilia of many authors who became quite famous. This list includes A.A. Milne, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Michael Frayn, and Stevie Smith.

A.A. Milne is the author of the Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) books. Sylvia Plath is an American poet and novelist famous for her book The Bell Jar (1963).

Juvenilia are works produced by an author or an artist in their youth.

Granta was revamped in 1979 after the student magazine suffered from financial troubles and a lack of student interest. Cambridge postgraduate students Bill Buford and Pete de Bolla rebranded Granta, transforming it from a dying student magazine to a quarterly literary publication featuring the best writing from around the world.

The first issue of the newly revamped Grata was titled New American Writing and brought acclaimed American writers such as Joyce Carol Oates, David Barthelme, and Susan Sontag to a British publication. The magazine’s editor, Bill Buford, was planning to move back to America at the end of his studies until the first revived issue of Granta unexpectedly sold 800 copies.

Bill Buford and Pete de Bolla initially struggled to get submissions for the magazine, and the relaunch was a challenging, exploratory endeavor. However, Buford remained editor of Granta for 16 years and helped establish the publication’s unique identity and credibility.

The magazine’s goal was to publish the best writing from around the world, and only to publish writing that the Granta team was passionate about. It has maintained this standard and expanded into a publishing branch called Granta Books, as well as a branch that focuses on poetry called Granta Poetry.

Granta magazine and Granta Poetry are owned by a charity called Granta Trust. The trust was established in 2019 with the goal of promoting and supporting new writing and writers.

Granta Books

In 1989 Bill Buford founded Granta Books, a book publishing branch. The objective of Granta Books was to publish stimulating, inspiring, writing that would address hard questions and explore interesting times in history. Buford made it clear from the start that publishing quality writing that explored significant ideas was the goal of Granta Books, rather than simply publishing writing that would sell well. He said that the writing published must fit the criteria of writing that was featured in Granta magazine.

In 1994 Rea Hederman, the owner and publisher of The New York Review of Books took ownership of Granta Books and magazine.

In 1997 Granta Books was expanded as Rea Hederman brought in a publisher named Frances Coady. The company soon established its own sales department and quadrupled the number of books published.

In 2005 the list of authors published by Granta books expanded further, as the publisher Sigrid Rausing took ownership of Granta publications.

In 2007 Granta Books joined the Independent Alliance, in association with Faber publishers.

The Independent Alliance is an alliance of independent publishing houses that share common goals in striving for excellence in diversity and originality of publishing and marketing approaches.

Granta Books currently publishes about 30 books a year. Books published by Granta Books are distributed and publicized by the famous British publishing house, Penguin. Some notable books published by Granta Books include:

  • Once in Europa (1987) by John Berger
  • Clandestine in Chile (1986) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • The Mezzanine (1988) by Nicholson Baker
  • Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990) by Salman Rushdie

Granta Books has also published writings by famous deceased writers such as:

  • The Essential Tales of Chekhov (1999) by Anton Chekhov
  • The Idiot (2003) by Fyodor Dostoevksky

The Importance of Granta

Granta is known as one of the most prestigious literary magazines in the English-speaking world. It has also helped establish new literary genres and new writers. Granta actively supports and encourages quality innovative, thought-provoking fiction and non-fiction writing. The publication is known as a forerunner in literary tastes that helps shape the literary landscape.

The magazine has introduced readers to notable authors including Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, Emma Cline, and Ben Lerner.

Granta, Girl Reading a book by Margaret Atwood, StudySmarterFig. 3 - The writing of Magaret Atwood, the author of the famous dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale (1985), is featured in the Fiction and Memoirs & Essays sections of Granta magazine.

Granta's "Best of Young"

Granta is frequently recognized for its issues titled "Best of Young." These issues highlight significant up-and-coming writers under the age of 40 in different countries such as Britain, America, Brazil, and Spain. The magazine provides a platform for important young voices from around the world to be heard.

Granta has published lists of young novelists to pay attention to beginning in 1983. The 1983 list of 20 young British novelists to watch out for includes Kazuo Ishiguro and Salman Rushdie. The 2003 list includes Monica Ali and Zadie Smith. Granta's "Best of Young" American Novelists includes writers such as Olga Grushin, ZZ Packer, Emma Cline, and Ben Lerner.

Granta - Key takeaways

  • Granta is a literary magazine based in the United Kingdom that publishes new literary fiction, memoirs, journalistic writing, photography, and poetry from authors around the world.
  • Granta has published 27 Nobel Prize winners.
  • Granta was founded by Cambridge University students in 1889 and was revived in the late 1970s.
  • In 1979, Bill Buford and Peter de Bolla founded the new phase of Granta, which aimed to publish the best writers from around the world, rather than simply focusing on student submissions.
  • Granta's "Best of Young" issues highlight significant up-and-coming writers under 40 years old in Britain, America, Brazil, and Spain.

Frequently Asked Questions about Granta

Granta is a literary magazine based in the United Kingdom. The magazine is published quarterly, made up of numerous pieces of writing and photographs by various authors in an aesthetically pleasing book format. It publishes new literary fiction, memoirs, journalistic writing, photography, and poetry from authors around the world.

Granta is one of the most prestigious literary magazines. It has published the writings of 27 winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

Granta has been published quarterly since its relaunch in 1979.

Granta is a river that flows into the River Cam in Cambridge, England.

Granta is a good magazine because it has helped establish new literary genres and new writers. Granta actively supports and encourages quality, innovative, and thought-provoking writing. It is known as a forerunner in literary tastes that help shape the literary landscape.

Final Granta Quiz

Question

What is Granta?

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Answer

Granta is a literary magazine based in the United Kingdom.

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How often is Granta published?

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Quarterly/ four times a year

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True or False: Granta only publishes works of fiction. 

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False

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Which of the following works does Granta not publish?

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Scripts

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True or False: Each issue of Granta is based on a theme addressing a particular aspect of life or genre of writing from the perspective of several authors.

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True

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What year was Granta first established?

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1899

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What year was Granta revived to feature writings from the best author's around the world?

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1979

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At what prestigious university was Granta founded?

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Cambridge University

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What is the name of the editor of Granta who reached out to many American authors for the first relaunch of the issue called New American Writing?

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Bill Buford

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What is the name of the publishing branch of Granta established in 1989?

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Granta Books

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True or False: Granta has published writings by 27 Nobel Prize for Literature winners.

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True

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Writers from which of the following countries have not been featured in Granta's 'Best of Young' series?

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Answer

France

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