Eleven years ago, in an issue entitled “The Future of American Fiction,” The New Yorker selected twenty writers that it deemed worthy to deliver on such a heady honorific. Among those writers were some already well-known names (Chabon, Foster Wallace, Alexie) and some who were on their way (Diaz, Lahiri, Eugenides).
The current issue selects “20 Under 40” — twenty writers under forty years of age who also constitute the future, if not the present, of American fiction. There are once again some familiar names (the husband-and-wife duo of Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss, Joshua Ferris, Chris Adrian, Gary Shteyngart), and others who will surely become familiar. (The youngest, Téa Obreht, is twenty-four. Her first published book arrives next year. You are allowed a moment of insane and bitter jealousy.)
A Q&A with all twenty is here on The New Yorker website. One of the stories in the current issue, “Twins” by C.E. Morgan, takes place in Cincinnati. Morgan, a native Ohioan, now lives in Kentucky. Her debut novel, All The Living, will appeal to fans of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead.
As for the cartoon profiles of each author, we wouldn’t be happy if we were Joshua Ferris. It appears as though he’s wearing a scalped hedgehog as a toupee.
Also on the site, Hendrik Hertzberg pens an ode to the “extremely wonderful independent bookstore” Politics & Prose, currently up for sale.