I didn’t plan it this way, but it has been a few months since my last blog on Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists 4 anthology. Now I’m back to it, and up to Steven Hall, whose The Raw Shark Texts I reviewed back in the pre-blog days of 2006 for Laurs Hird’s New Review website.
Hall’s upcoming second novel is titled The End of Endings, and the Granta volume has a couple of excerpts. One of these, Autumn’ is set in the UK of 2014: its narrator, Philip Quinn, tells of speaking to his wife on the phone while he (and the rest of the world) watches a webcam feed of her sleeping; talks a bit about entropy and how it applies to his kitchen; and describes receiving a photograph of a mysterious black sphere from a friend (whom he’s already told us died soon after) .
Turn the volume upside-down, and there is ‘Spring’, printed on alternate pages (white text on a black background) and set in the US of 1854. A writer is commissioned by the New York Tribune to write a story on a spiritualist who claims to have invented an engine powered by prayer; just as he decided to accept the assignment, Hall’s piece ends.
Perhaps inevitably, ‘Spring’ and ‘Autumn’ serve more to whet one’s appetite for the novel than as complete pieces in their own right. But what intriguing tasters they are: evidently these two rather different storylines are going to connect somehow; and it sounds as though there’s going to be an interesting subtext too. I look forward to reading the novel to see how everything plays out.
This is part of a series of posts on Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4. Click here to read the rest.