Benjamin Markovits’s biographical note in the Granta anthology says that ‘You Don’t Have to Live Like This’ is excerpted from “his new novel about, about a group of university friends who get involved in a scheme to regenerate Detroit”. This particular excerpt focuses on their time at university, so we don’t seem to get much of a sense form it of where the novel will ultimately go.

Two characters in particular strand out to me from the extract: the narrator, Greg Marnier, an ordinary kid from Baton Rouge who doesn’t seem to have been too lucky in love; and his college friend Robert James, a more privileged type who seems set to go places. These characters could be the foundation for an interesting novel, but Markovits’s piece does feel very much like a beginning, and I am undecided as to whether I’d want to read the novel on the basis of this extract alone.

This is part of a series of posts on Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4Click here to read the rest.