Find your next summer read
Fresh titles to keep you company on long-haul flights and muggy afternoons
Faced with loss, lies and millennial angst, you gotta laugh. Try these from the humour section:
DADDY’S BOY BY SHANDANA MINHAS
A short read (200 pages) that distils the essence of Karachi. Asfandyar Ikram has just found out who his father was and now has to carry out this stranger’s last wishes, aided by three acerbic old men. This book is a great introduction to a little-known Pakistani writer.
THE PORTABLE VEBLEN BY ELIZABETH MCKENZIE
As her wedding date approaches, the sweet but unmoored young Veblen Amundsen-Hovda finds herself drawn to a talking squirrel. Her fiancé, a talented neurologist, furiously chases a huge ambition, but the bride-to-be is developing an obsession of her own with the psychic rodent.
MISLAID BY NELL ZINK
Two siblings raised by two very different people — a gay man and a lesbian woman who once happened to be married — meet in adulthood and have to get past the lies that have served them so well, and the truths that really hurt.
WAYS TO DISAPPEAR BY IDRA NOVEY
When a brilliant Brazilian writer goes missing, her American translator feels compelled to fly to Rio de Janeiro and help the family find the enigmatic — and debt-ridden — Beatriz Yagoda, who was last seen climbing an almond tree, a cigar and suitcase in hand.
PRIVATE CITIZENS BY TONY TULATHIMUTTE
Four Stanford grads negotiating the landscape of adulthood is the subject of this biting satire. The author examines privilege, ambition and the specific neuroses of the Millenial generation.
Short stories to dip into between laps in the pool
YOU SHOULD PITY US INSTEAD BY AMY GUSTINE
Funny, warm and deep, Gustine’s stories nevertheless cover impressive moral ground and have an urgent appeal; her characters sneak into Gaza, rail against mortality and consider the usefulness of god.
THE UNFINISHED WORLD: AND OTHER STORIES BY AMBER SPARKS
For really short stories that pack a big punch, trust the poetic prowess of Sparks. Death is a recurring theme but there’s beauty even in the strangest of settings, a skill for which the author has been likened to Angela Carter.
WHAT IS NOT YOURS IS NOT YOURS BY HELEN OYEYEMI
Featured in Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists list in 2013, Oyeyemi is known for telling richly detailed stories with a smack of magic, like with her novel Boy, Snow, Bird, a retelling of Snow White. Her collection of short stories, too, has that fairy tale quality.
The most highly-anticipated and giddily-praised new novelists
THE NEST BY CYNTHIA D’APRIX SWEENEY
A family saga concentrated on the events of a meeting between four siblings to discuss the sizeable trust money that might be coming their way — unless the oldest brother, fresh from rehab, screws it all up.
THE PRIVATE LIFE OF MRS SHARMA BY RATIKA KAPUR
Renuka Sharma lives life within the lines, keeping home for her overseas husband and making sense of the urban decay she sees reflected in her out-of-control son. But when a chance encounter turns into an illicit affair, things suddenly become unpredictable in Mrs Sharma’s quiet world.
13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A FAT GIRL BY MONA AWAD
Through a series of linked stories —some previously published, including on McSweeneys — Awad introduces us to the recently thin Lizze, who finds the old demons of self-doubt still plague her now perfect body.
WRECK AND ORDER BY HANNAH TENNANT-MOORE
Elsie’s solution to most big problems — dead-end career, abusive boyfriend, restlessness — is to run away. Her inheritance gives her the means to live in New York, Paris and Sri Lanka, but money can’t protect her from the big pile of issues she’s been ignoring back home.
What’s a summer read that doesn’t send a chill down your spine? Trust these thrilling reads to do the job:
MR SPLITFOOT BY SAMANTHA HUNT
Ghosts summoned by a séance haunt a grim family road trip in this gothic novel, painted lushly with religious symbolism. At the heart of the story are two women, belonging to two different times, who march towards what promises to be a creepy climax.
MAN TIGER BY EKA KURNIAWAN
The political, personal and supernatural collide in Indonesian writer Kurniawan’s tale of two old families and one young man possessed by the spirit of a fantastical beast. Comparisons to the novels of Rushdie and Marquez were inevitable.
THE VANISHED BY LOTTE AND SØREN HAMMER
It all starts with a body at the bottom of the stairs. In the third of the Konrad Simonson series, the inspector discovers disturbing clues in the dead man’s attic to the whereabouts of a missing girl. Scandi suspense at its nail-biting best.
CAREER OF EVIL BY ROBERT GALBRAITH
Private detective Cormoran Strike returns, and the arrival of a severed leg on his secretary Robin Ellacott’s desk lets the duo know the game’s afoot. Soon, they’re hot on the trail of a serial killer with a penchant for sending bloody parcels by post.
Stories filled with sunshine, romance and girls who can. Bonus: no stilettos on the cover
THE LITTLE SHOP OF HAPPY-EVER-AFTER BY JENNY COLGAN
Nina, who loves her job at a Birmingham library, gets a rude shock when a round of downsizing shunts her into a soulless desk job. She takes a leap of faith and buys a bookshop-in-a-bus that has her driving around the Scottish countryside and running into some interesting characters.
LIFE AND OTHER NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES BY CAMILLE PAGAN
A cancer diagnosis and the end of her marriage jolt Libby Miller out of her placid Midwestern existence, and she begins to make end-of-life plans (the first part of which involves landing in Puerto Rico). She’s trying to ease out gently, but adventures, even romance, keep finding her.
A WINDOW OPENS BY ELISABETH EGAN
Despite her best friend’s skepticism, magazine editor Alice Pearse believes she’s found a way to have it all: happy marriage, kids and a new job at a painfully cool digital company. But a series of small disasters topple her apple cart with some messy consequences.
Expect nothing less than searing honesty from these memoirs, with a dash of celebrity gossip
SO SAD TODAY: PERSONAL ESSAYS BY MELISSA BRODER
To find a vent for her anxious, depressive thoughts, Broder started a funny, anonymous Twitter account (@sosadtoday) whose popularity soon revealed that she’s not alone. In the book, she expands on the theme to probe universal, but uncomfortable states.
AN UNSUITABLE BOY BY KARAN JOHAR WITH POONAM SAXENA
If it’s anything like his talk show, Johar’s upcoming autobiography will be funny, self-deprecating and peppered with A-list Bollywood goss. The film-maker explores his childhood and his relationships with two crucial men: his father and Shah Rukh Khan.
LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT WE ATE: A MEMOIR BY PADMA LAKSHMI
Already setting the lit world atwitter with revelations on her marriage to Salman Rushdie, the book traces Lakshmi’s journey from a turbulent childhood home to the success and satiety that she found in her lifelong passion for food.
Deeply atmospheric historical fiction that transports you to another time
THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT BY ALEXANDER CHEE
The award-winning author of Edinburgh brings to vivid life Paris of the 19th century. Lilliet Berne has worked her way up from circus performer to star of the opera, but someone’s out to sabotage her. If she doesn’t stop them, she faces not just failure but oblivion.
THE NOISE OF TIME BY JULIAN BARNES
The Man Booker Prize-winning Barnes tells a fictionalised version of Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich’s life, under the oppressive attention of Joseph Stalin, in 1930s Leningrad. Laid out starkly before Shostakovich is the choice between artistic integrity and personal freedom.
GIRL THROUGH GLASS BY SARI WILSON
Get a glimpse of what it’s like to live in the highly competitive, overheated world of professional ballet. The novel follows two women: in the 1970s, Mira has her life absorbed completely by the demands of the New York City Ballet and in the current day, Kate, a professor of dance, tumbles into a self-destructive relationship she just can’t quit.