ARTS : WHERE NOW FOR GRANTA?

By Ian Jack, Granta's new editor, and Rea Hederman, its publisher
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The Independent Culture
We'll continue to publish fiction and non- fiction. I tend to think the distinctions between fiction and non-fiction are a bit confusing. What we're looking for is good pieces of writing that command attention - set an agenda, to use an ugly phrase. I don't think Bill Buford will be remembered for serving up chunks of Martin Amis (good though that might be), but for publishing James Fenton on the fall of Saigon or Isobel Hilton looking for Stroessner in Paraguay.

Bill's eye was attracted to the story. Almost everything that was good in Granta was the story of something. The essay was not something Granta ever did. I'm not sure that's something I will do - I don't believe in pompous editorial manifestoes, you can only be judged on the quality of what you actually produce. It's bound not to be quite the same, but I hope it would sustain the kind of virility Buford achieved.

The compulsion in editorial floors all across London is to ask "Will this sell"? It's an important question, but if you begin from that position, you won't give people anything they don't expect. IJ

My family owned some newspapers in Mississippi which were considered the worst in America. I went back as editor and changed them, and we ended up winning every award in American journalism, including the Pulitzer Prize. But my family weren't happy about this - they pushed me out. It took 11 years to turn the papers round, and 12 months to destroy them. So when I became involved with the New York Review of Books, and later with Granta, I knew the importance of editorial independence. The hard part will be continuing the great tradition Bill [Buford] has established, but it won't be done against the usual pressures: "We can't to do that because the advertisers wouldn't like it" or "because Bill wouldn't have done it".

It will continue to do the things Granta does best - to be an independent publication, to allocate whatever space is necessary to whatever writer is chosen to explore whatever story. Granta has always been about stories, fiction or non- fiction.

I've been interested in Ian [Jack] for a long time; I think he's a wonderful editor who writes beautifully. One of the things Granta does best is literary reportage - that's something he can develop. RH

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