35 Brilliant New Books You Should Read This Summer
Required reading from July to September. UK release dates.
1. Butterfly Fish by Irenosen Okojie – Out Now
Okojie's debut novel, Butterfly Fish combines traditional Nigerian storytelling and magical realism, splitting its narrative between modern Britain and 19th century Africa, as a London-based photographer searches for the origins of a brass warrior's head.
A green palm wine bottle rolled on the wet London Street. Its movements were audible gasps made of glass. It didn't matter how the bottle had arrived at its location under the curious yellow gaze of the lamppost or whether the messenger had been a postman delivering for both God and the dancing devil. The image unfurling inside the bottle shimmering like moonlight trapped in glass mattered. Lick the edges of the picture presented and you could taste the sour, sweet traces of palm wine and trap your tongue in a different time; 19th century Benin, Nigeria.
2. The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink – Out Now
In the summer of 1990, Cathy's brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out. The Last Act of Love is a memoir, the story of what happened to Cathy, her brother, and the unimaginable decision that she and her parents had to make eight years after that night.
3. Citizen by Claudia Rankine – Out Now
Citizen weaves essays, images, and poetry together to examine the experience of race and racism in Western society through sharp vignettes of everyday discrimination and prejudice, and longer meditations on the violence - whether linguistic or physical - which has impacted the lives of Serena Williams, Zinedine Zidane, Mark Duggan, and the author herself.
The new therapist specializes in trauma counseling. You have only ever spoken on the phone. Her house has a side gate that leads to a back entrance she uses for patients. You walk down a path bordered on both sides with deer grass and rosemary to the gate, which turns out to be locked.
At the front door the bell is a small round disc that you press firmly. When the door finally opens, the woman standing there yells, at the top of her lungs, Get away from my house. What are you doing in my yard?
It's as if a wounded Doberman pinscher or a German shepherd has gained the power of speech. And though you back up a few steps, you manage to tell her you have an appointment. You have an appointment? she spits back. Then she pauses. Everything pauses. Oh, she says, followed by, oh, yes, that's right. I am sorry.
I am so sorry, so, so sorry.
4. You Don’t Have to Live Like This by Benjamin Markovits – Out Now
Ten years out of Yale, Greg Marnier is stuck in a rambling academic career that has landed him in Aberystwyth. At his college reunion, he runs into an old friend who offers him an extraordinary way out, by helping build a new America from the rubble of a crumbling Detroit.
Robert had gotten involved in political consulting after college, started a company and cashed out before the crash. In a funny way, he was in the same boat as I was – kicking his heels, looking for the next thing to do. Except that he had money and clout and ambition.
His latest idea was to buy up houses in Detroit. 'You could do whatever you want with them,' he said. 'Set up any kind of society. There's a guy who talks about plowing the land into farms. But you'd need a critical mass of people to make it work. People like you, but would people like you move to Detroit? I mean, would you?'
'Yes,' I said.
5. The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson – Out Now
'Princess' Caraboo, an exotic young woman from a foreign land, arrives out of the blue. Fearless and strong, she rises above the suspicions of the wealthy family who take her in. In a world where it seems everyone is playing a role, could she be an ordinary girl with a tragic past? Is she a confidence trickster? Or is she the princess everyone wants her to be?
6. Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss – Out Now
Only weeks into their marriage a young 19th century couple embark on a six-month period of separation. Tom goes to Japan to build lighthouses, while his wife, Ally, stays and works at the Truro asylum, battling the institutional politics of mental health. A sequel to Night Waking and Bodies of Light.
7. The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton – Out Now
In late November, Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrive in Alaska, looking for Ruby's father. They drive alone across a frozen wilderness where nothing grows, where tears freeze, and where no one lives. Night will last for another fifty-four days – and someone is watching them in the dark.
She yelled his name into the dark as loudly as she could. But although her mouth formed the shapes to make the sound and her lungs forced his name into a scream, the sound was obliterated by the wind so that she didn't know if she'd made any sound at all.
8. The Ecliptic by Benjamin Wood – Out Now
A curious assembly of painters, architects, writers and musicians strive to restore their faded talents on a forested island off the coast of Istanbul. When a disaffected teenager named Fullerton arrives at the refuge, he disrupts its established routines. Where did the boy come from, what is ‘The Ecliptic’, and how does it relate to their abandoned lives in England?
9. The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas – Out Now
Great Aunt Oleander is dead. To each of her nearest and dearest she has left a seed pod. The seed pods might be deadly, but then again they might also contain the secret of enlightenment. Not that anyone has much time for enlightenment.
10. A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler, translated by Charlotte Collins – Out Now
Andreas lives his whole life in the Austrian Alps. He is a man of very few words and so, when he falls in love with Marie, he doesn't ask for her hand in marriage, but instead has some of his friends light her name at dusk across the mountain. He leaves his valley to fight in WWII, and returns to find that modernity has reached his remote haven...
11. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley – Out Now
In 1883, Thaniel Steepleton returns to his tiny flat to find a gold pocketwatch on his pillow. When the watch saves his life in a blast that destroys Scotland Yard, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori - a lonely immigrant. Meanwhile, theoretical physicist Grace Carrow is sneaking into an Oxford library dressed as a man, desperate to prove the existence of the luminiferous ether. As their lives become entwined, Thaniel is torn between loyalties, futures and opposing geniuses.
Back in his room, he flicked open the door of the stove again. He sat down on the edge of the bed with his coat still on and held his hands toward the coals. A dark shape just beside him caught his eye. He stiffened because at first he thought it was a mouse, but it wasn't moving. It was a velvet box, tied with a white ribbon. He had never seen it before. He picked it up. It was heavy. On the ribbon was a circular label, etched with leaf patterns. In an angular, calligraphic hand it read: 'To Mr Steepleton'. He pulled off the ribbon and opened the box. The hinge was stiff but did not squeak. Inside was a pocket watch.
12. The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray – July 30
What links the Investment Bank of Torabundo, www.myhotswaitress.com (yes, hots with an s, don't ask), an art heist, a novel called For the Love of a Clown, a four-year-old boy named after TV detective Remington Steele, a lonely French banker, a tiny Pacific island, and a pest control business run by an ex-KGB man?
13. Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami – August 4
Wind/Pinball comprises Haruki Murakami’s first two novels, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973, published together in a single reversible hardcover volume, and available for the first time in English outside Japan. Both books follow the fortunes of the narrator and his friend – known only by his nickname, the Rat.
If you're the sort of guy who raids the refrigerators of silent kitchens at three o'clock in the morning, you can only write accordingly.
That's who I am.
14. The New World by Chris Adrian & Eli Horowitz – August 6
Jane's husband Jim has just died - or not quite. For Jim has left his body to Polaris, a shadowy cryonics organisation that promises to do away with mortality forever. Jane sets out to confront Polaris and to discover just where, exactly, his body is now. Meanwhile, awake in a strange new world, Jim learns that the cost of eternal life is higher than he ever could have imagined.
Jim collapsed and died at the hospital where he and Jane both worked, she as a pediatric surgeon and he as a chaplain—a humanist chaplain, as he liked to remind everyone. Jane was on a flight home from a conference in Paris, fast asleep in transatlantic tranquillity. After the plane landed, her phone stumbled over itself, the notifying chimes and vibrations interrupting each other as soon as she turned it on. There was a message from Jim, sent hours ago. So she was tricked, for half a second, into thinking he was fine. Then she saw all the other texts, and all the voice mails. Jane's seatmate, a hair-helmeted blond lady, laid a hand on Jane's arm and said, "Oh, something terrible has happened, hasn't it?"
15. The Sunshine Cruise Company by John Niven – August 13
Susan and Julie have been friends since school and now, on the edge of 60, they find their lives falling apart when a sudden debt threatens Susan’s home. With the help of an octogenarian gangster named Nails and a thrill-crazy friend, they decide that to take the bank rather than let the bank take everything. They soon find that getting away with it is not so easy.
16. Noonday by Pat Barker – August 27
Paul Tarrant, Elinor Brooke and Kit Neville first met in 1914 at the Slade School of Art, before their generation lost hope, faith and much else besides on the battlefields of Ypres and the Somme. Now it is 1940, they are middle-aged, and another war has begun. As the bombs fall and Elinor and the others struggle to survive, old temptations and obsessions return, and all of them are forced to make choices about what they really want.
17. The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett – August 27
The final novel in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, finished before his death earlier this year. Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength. As the fairy horde prepares for invasion, Tiffany must summon all the witches to stand with her. To protect the land. Her land.
18. The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz – August 27
Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist have not been in touch for some time. Then Blomkvist is contacted by renowned AI scientist Professor Balder, who wants Millennium to publish his story - and it is a terrifying one. But more interesting to Blomkvist is his Balder's connection to a certain female superhacker: Salander, like Balder, is a target of ruthless cyber gangsters, and a violent criminal conspiracy that will very soon bring terror to the snowbound streets of Stockholm.
19. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler – August 27
The Whitshank family gather on the porch, half-listening as their mother, Abby, tells the tale of how she met their father, Red, before spooling back through the generations, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define the family four generations of Whitshanks.
The house the Whitshanks rented every summer stood right on the beach—a comparatively uncrowded stretch of the Delaware coast—but it wasn't what you'd call luxurious. The walls were tongue-and-groove, painted a depressing pea-soup green; the floor- boards were so splintery no one dared go barefoot; the kitchen dated from the 1940s. But it was big enough for all of them, and far homier than the glittering new mansions with giant Palladian windows that had popped up elsewhere along the shore. Besides, Red could always use a few fix-it jobs to keep him occupied. (He wasn't a natural vacationer.) Even before Abby and Nora had unpacked the food, he had happily catalogued half a dozen minor household emergencies. "Will you look at this outlet!" he said. "Practically dangling by a thread!" And off he went to the truck for his tools, with Jeannie's Hugh not far behind.
20. The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley – August 27
When the remains of a young child are discovered during a winter storm on a stretch of the bleak Lancashire coastline, known as The Loney, a man named Smith is forced to confront the terrifying and mysterious events that occurred forty years earlier when he visited the place as a boy. Smith feels he is the only one to know the truth, and he must bear the burden of his knowledge, no matter what the cost.
21. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness – August 27
Mikey is not the Chosen One. He's not one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever this new thing is. Mikey just wants to graduate and go to prom and finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone blows up the high school. Again. Sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend might just be the God of mountain lions.
22. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – August 27
Four graduates from a small Massachusetts college – Willem, JB, Malcolm and Jude – move to New York to make their way. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet each comes to realise their greatest challenge is Jude himself, who by midlife is a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood.
23. The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah – September 3
Memory is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder. As part of her appeal her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life.
24. Asking For It by Louise O'Neill – September 3
Emma O’Donovan is 18 years old, beautiful, happy and confident. Then Emma attends a party, and wakes up on the front porch of her house the next morning. She can’t remember what happened, and doesn't know why she’s in pain – but everyone else does. Photographs from party show what happened to Emma that night, but sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the heroes of her small Irish town.
25. Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt – September 3
When Lucien (Lucy) Minor accepts employment assisting the majordomo of a remote castle, he meets thieves, madmen, aristocrats, and a puppy. He also meets Klara, who is, unfortunately, already involved. Thus begins a tale of polite theft, bitter heartbreak, domestic mystery and cold-blooded murder in which every aspect of human behaviour is laid bare.
26. The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante – Sept 3
The final chapter of in Ferrante's celebrated Neapolitan Quartet, the saga of two women, the brilliant, bookish Elena and the fiery uncontainable Lila. In this book, both are adults; life’s great discoveries have been made, its vagaries and losses have been suffered. As Lila and Elena clash, drift apart, reconcile, and clash again, they reveal new facets of their friendship, which throughout it all, remains the gravitational centre of their lives.
27. The Past by Tessa Hadley – September 3
Three sisters and a brother, partners and children in tow, meet up in their grandparents’ old house, a place rich with childhood memories, for three long, hot summer weeks. But beneath the idyllic surface, there are tensions. Amidst searing passions, seductions, and secrets, a way of life – bourgeois, literate, ritualised – winds down to its inevitable end.
28. Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz – September 8
The story begins in the lethal world of Grand Prix and an attempt by the Russians to sabotage a race at Nürburgring, the most dangerous track in Europe. Bond is in the driving seat but events swiftly take an unexpected turn, pitching him into an entirely different race with implications that could change the world.
29. Two Years, Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie – September 8
In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub–Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A woman is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining. It's the beginning of an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights — or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights.
30. The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell – September 10
Feodora and her mother live in the snowbound woods of Russia. Ten minutes away, in a ruined chapel, lives a pack of wolves. Feodora's mother is a wolf wilder, the opposite of an animal tamer: a person who teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves. When the Russian Army threatens her very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run. What follows is a story of revolution and adventure, about standing up for the things you love and fighting back. And, of course, wolves.
31. Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks – September 10
On a small island off the south coast of France, Robert Hendricks, an English doctor, is forced to confront the events that made up his life. His host, and antagonist, is Alexander Pereira, a man whose time is running out, but who seems to know more about his guest than Hendricks himself does. The search for sanity takes us through the war in Italy in 1944, the great days of idealistic work in the 1960s and finally back into the trenches of the Western Front.
32. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff – September 15
At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, Fates and Furies is a novel about love, art, creativity and power that is unlike anything that has come before it.
33. Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max John Porter – Sept 17
In a London flat, two young boys face the unbearable sadness of their mother's sudden death. Their father, a Ted Hughes scholar and scruffy romantic, imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness. In this moment of despair they are visited by Crow - antagonist, trickster, healer, babysitter. This sentimental bird is drawn to the grieving family and threatens to stay until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and the pain of loss gives way to memories, the little unit of three starts to heal.
34. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Sept 24
In a letter to his adolescent son, Coates shares a series of revelatory experiences – from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder – attempting to answer some of the biggest questions about American history and its ideals, while addressing the most intimate concerns of a father for his son.
This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.
35. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood – September 29
A married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse join The Positron Project – which guarantees them a home and a job for six months of the year. On alternating months, they must leave their home and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to home. At first, this doesn’t seem like too much of a sacrifice. But with each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.