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For the longest time the image of Granta magazine I held in my mind was that of the black-boxed white lettering solidly stamped on its spine, row after row on the top shelf of my mother’s inset bookcases in her office. It’s a comforting image, one that recalls my childhood and marks the origins of my own will to collect, but not imaginative, fun, and strong cover design.

That has changed. Starting in the spring of 2008, and especially with last year’s New Fiction Special, Granta has been putting out issues with innovative, beautiful covers, often illustrated by first-rate artists. They are perfect complements to the new writing it publishes. Of particular note is the Chicago cover, which perfectly captures the most American of modern cities. It also complements great writing by Don Delillo, Aleksander Hemon, and Alek Kotlowitz, among others. The newest issue, on Pakistan, is just as good; the cover was done by Islam Gull, a truck and bus painter from Pakistan, as part of a collaboration between Pakistani artists done for the issue.

I’ve also always loved Granta’s writing, especially on travel, and its strong photo essays (like Ian Teh’s Traces, which was featured in the Going Back issue). Now it’s a total package.