What we’re reading this summer

Have you been stuck in a reading rut over lockdown? We’ve asked Faber staff which books they’ve been enjoying and what they’re looking forward to reading over the summer.

 

Mel Tyrrell, Regional Sales Manager

 

Girl, Woman, Other
Bernardine Evaristo

I’d been waiting for my local indie bookshop to open so that I could purchase my copy in person and now I can’t wait to read this after so many recommendations from friends and colleagues.

 

 

 

Shadow State
Luke Harding

Luke Harding is a superb investigative journalist and if this is anything as good as his previous book, Collusion, it will also read like a thriller. It will be fascinating to dig deeper into Russia’s shadowy influence on world events.

 

 

 

Solved.
Andrew Wear

This was the perfect lockdown read, giving real-life examples of positive solutions to the world’s problems. How has Iceland solved gender equality and Denmark found the answer to renewable energy? How did South Korea manage to go from a war zone to become the world’s healthiest nation? Solved. is very readable but also satisfyingly full of data.

 

 

 

Kim Lund, Key Account Manager

 

The Death of Vivek Oji
Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi is such a talented, young author. Their books already span YA, literary and more commercial fiction. In The Death of Vivek Oji the struggle of sexuality and conformity in contemporary Nigeria is laid bare in an uncompromising, page-turning novel.

 

 

 

The Dutch House
Ann Patchett

I have been a fan of Ann Patchett ever since I read Bel Canto eons ago. The Dutch House captures the trials of modern life beautifully, featuring an orphaned brother and sister who are thrown out of their ancestral home by their stepmother in contemporary USA. Cinderella meets Great Expectations.

 

 

 

At Hawthorn Time
Melissa Harrison

When I saw that Faber will publish The Stubborn Light of Things by Melissa Harrison this November, I thought I would catch up on her fiction. At Hawthorn Time is one of those very quiet but eerily beautiful novels, where nothing much happens in an incredibly moving way. Her grasp of nature is second to none.

 

 

 

Hannah Styles, Rights Executive

 

My Dark Vanessa
Kate Elizabeth Russell

This is one of those books that’s an all-consuming read – it’s a skilfully unflinching and often unsettling story of grooming that stays with you long after you finish it. Bold and powerful.

 

 

 

Mayflies
Andrew O’Hagan

This was one that I really couldn’t wait to read, and it was worth the wait. Emotive from the beginning, the incredibly nostalgic storytelling of the first chapters turns into a heartbreaking, resonating examination of friendship and tragedy.

 

 

 

The Vanishing Half
Brit Bennett

For me this was a fresh and creative narrative of race and identity and the part that our family history plays in who we become. A mesmerising, intelligent and beautifully written novel.

 

 

 

 

Stephen Page, CEO

 

The Icarus Girl
Helen Oyeyemi

The brilliant debut novel by one of Granta‘s Best of Young British Novelists.

 

 

 

 

Postcolonial Love Poem
Natalie Diaz

The electrifying second collection of poems by the American Book Award winner.

 

 

 

 

The Offing
Benjamin Myers

A vivid and meditative novel of friendship across generations, and of the power of art.

 

 

 

 

Rachel Darling, Trade Marketing Coordinator

 

The City We Became
N. K. Jemisin

Hugely enjoying this ingenious, crackling fantasy set in a world where all the great cities are reborn as human avatars and five people find they’ve each somehow become one of New York’s boroughs.

 

 

 

Justine
Lawrence Durrell

Originally published by Faber in 1957, this new edition – with an introduction by André Aciman – brings Durrell’s dark and heady love story back to life.

 

 

 

 

The Liar’s Dictionary
Eley Williams

Attrib. is one of my favourite short-story collections of all time and I am seriously looking forward to Eley Williams’s debut novel about two people working on a dictionary one hundred years apart.

 

 

 

Angus Cargill, Editorial Director

 

Holes
Louis Sachar

Having had it on my bookshelf for about fifteen years, I have just finally read Louis Sachar’s novel Holes, at the urging of my eleven-year-old daughter. An unforgettable mystery story, an allegory both dark and hopeful, and a timely reflection on the founding myths of America, it was every bit the classic she (and so many other people) said it was.

 

 

These Women
Ivy Pochoda

I’m recommending to everyone I can Ivy Pochoda’s These Women, a novel as technically brilliant as it is emotionally charged, which gives voice to six women from different backgrounds and communities in Los Angeles in the mid-2000s, pushing their lives and experiences ahead of that of the killer who lurks in the background of the story. Superbly reviewed in the US and a CrimeReads book of the year so far, it’s out in ebook and audiobook now and will publish in paperback in November.

 

Bluebird, Bluebird
Attica Locke

One of my summer holiday reads last year was Attica Locke’s excellent Bluebird, Bluebird, the first of her Highway 59 series featuring Darren Matthews, a black Texas Ranger. I’ve just got a paperback copy of its follow-up Heaven, My Home – as the Lone Star State faces a new wave of racial violence after the election of Donald Trump – which I’m looking forward to as one of my stay-at-home-summer-holiday reads this year.

 

 

Jude Gates, Production Director and Director of Faber Factory

 

Footnotes in Gaza
Joe Sacco

I’ve just finished this. Through conversations with old local residents the author attempts to piece together two violent events in Gaza’s history. Jumping between modern day and the memories of 1956, the picture that becomes clear is heartbreaking and without reparation.

 

 

Girl, Woman, Other
Bernardine Evaristo

Just started this one; love the poetic style and the omission of many grammatical norms and how beautifully this makes the story flow. Glad I waited for the paperback because, production-wise, it is beautiful.

 

 

 

The Fifth Season
N. K. Jemisin

Not started this one yet but looking forward to some substantial fantasy in The Broken Earth trilogy. Other worlds may be far from perfect too but at least they’re not this one!

 

 

 

 

Kellie Balseiro, Regional Account Manager

 

The Mission House
Carys Davies

I adore Carys Davies’ writing, her short stories and her previous novel. The Mission House is set in a British Hill station in postcolonial South India. Hilary Byrd escapes to the Mission House for a quieter life and to settle his nerves. He becomes a part of life there for so many people, just as religious tensions are starting to build. Beautifully told.

 

 

 

My Name Is Why
Lemn Sissay

Imagine, after seventeen years of appalling treatment in the care system, that your birth mother had been asking for you to join her but had been ignored. This is an incredibly emotive and important book that will be one of the biggest books of the summer. Heartbreaking.

 

 

 

The House on Fripp Island
Rebecca Kauffman

The closest thing to a ‘beach read’ on this list, two very different families are thrown together on a holiday. The mum’s are school friends but have taken very different paths in life. Tensions build slowly with the heat and somebody doesn’t return home . . .

 

 

 

Bethany Carter, Children’s Publicity Manager

 

Notes to Self
Emilie Pine

I’m a little late to reading this beautifully raw collection of essays from Emilie Pine, and only halfway through, but I already know it’s a book that will stick with me for years to come.

 

 

 

When Stars Are Scattered
Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

I can’t stop recommending this incredible, heartbreaking and hopeful graphic novel to everyone I know. Omar Mohamed’s true story of growing up in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya has been completely brought to life with stunning illustrations from Victoria Jamieson.

 

 

A Kind of Spark
Elle McNicoll

I’ve heard absolutely incredible things about Elle McNicoll’s debut, which follows Addie, a young autistic girl who is campaigning for a memorial to the women executed as witches in her small Scottish town. I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

 

 

 

Lucy Houghton, Sales Assistant

 

The Death of Vivek Oji
Akwaeke Emezi

I have just received an advance copy of The Death of Vivek Oji. Having recently read Freshwater, I can’t wait to see what Akwaeke Emezi does with this tale of family, identity and mystery.

 

 

 

The Green Road
Anne Enright

I have recently been introduced to Anne Enright by a colleague with great taste . . . Having enjoyed Actress so much, I’m excited to read Enright’s backlist, starting with The Green Road.

 

 

 

Love After Love
Ingrid Persaud

This is my go-to summer recommendation – and it’s one that people have been very grateful for! Mr Chetan, Betty and Solo make for perfect companions throughout the journey of love, happiness, loss and forgiveness that Ingrid Persaud’s debut takes us on.

 

 

 

Phoebe Williams, Marketing and Website Assistant

 

How Much of These Hills Is Gold
C Pam Zhang

An incredible debut novel about two orphaned siblings travelling across the nineteenth-century American West. I was captivated by the way the family history slowly unravels before the story races to its conclusion.

 

 

 

The Hunted
Gabriel Bergmoser

Gabriel Bergmoser’s The Hunted is a thrilling and relentless horror story set in the remote landscapes of the Australian outback. I loved its cinematic style and was hooked by the addictive, fast-paced plot.

 

 

 

The Vanishing Half
Brit Bennett

High on my summer reading list is Brit Bennett’s new novel The Vanishing Half, which explores how the lives of two twin sisters take very different directions when they run away from home. I can’t wait to start this one!

 

 

 

 

Sophie Clarke, Executive Assistant

 

Rainbow Milk
Paul Mendez

A semi-autobiographical account of a young, black, gay Jehovah’s Witness who runs away from Wolverhampton to London, where he makes a living as a prostitute. I was blown away by this debut, written with such a close eye to social interaction and how prejudice is revealed through dialogue and its subtext.

 

 

 

Paris
Hope Mirrlees

I’m a bit late to this poem (one hundred years late, to be exact), but I can’t wait to read Hope Mirrlees’ modernist depiction of post-war Paris. Described as a ‘polyphonic adventure’ by the brilliant Deborah Levy, this poem is probably as close to the Seine as I’ll be getting this summer!

 

 

 

The Mothers
Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett is the author of book-of-the-moment The Vanishing Half. Her debut novel, The Mothers, is just as compelling, with a masterful group narrative voice from a Californian church community that reads like a twenty-first century Greek chorus.

 

 

 

 

Emmie Francis, Editor

 

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments
Saidiya Hartman

Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments is an elegant and tough-as-nails scholarly work that tracks the hard-won freedoms of young Black women at the turn of the century in New York and Philadelphia. It’s a micro–macro masterpiece depicting intimate desires and impulses of those who Hartman calls ‘chorines, bulldaggers, aesthetical negroes, socialists, lady lovers, pansies and anarchists’. Somehow, it welds singular archival detail to a clever mode of storytelling, producing a really distinct work of social history.

 

Minor Detail
Adania Shibli

I read Minor Detail, an Arabic novel in two parts by Adania Shibli, in the first week of lockdown; it proved to be a memorable experience as the novel is both claustrophobic and world-widening. It’s beautifully rendered in calm prose by Elisabeth Jaquette, but the unease that underpins the thriller-esque justice tale keeps you alert until the end, at which point Shibli deploys a literary flourish so plain and powerful, you cannot get it out of your head, even weeks after.

 

 

Changing My Mind
Zadie Smith

Perhaps more than her fiction, I think Zadie Smith’s greater provision to her readers has been her thinking. Upon hearing that, in July, Smith will publish a new collection of essays written over lockdown, I immediately picked up her first collection, Changing My Mind. It’s a book that allows readers to share in ‘ideological inconsistency’, as she puts it, and it still retains challenging and comforting qualities – both sorely needed today.

 

 

Sue Jackson, Regional Account Manager

 

The Offing
Benjamin Myers

Just what the doctor ordered. A beautifully written tale of simpler times gone by, written with tenderness and eloquence. The perfect antidote to our current, quite often stressful and challenging lives.

 

 

 

Here Is the Beehive
Sarah Crossan

Written in blank verse, this slim volume packs a punch that stays with you long after you’ve finished it. Obsessive love, lies and secrets combine to create a tension that’s almost unbearable to read at times. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

Love After Love
Ingrid Persaud

A fabulous mix of colourful characters and slices of life in Trinidad. The story is told in turn by the three central characters, and the relationships each of them have with each other and their wider circle of friends and family. Beautifully written, poignant and at times very emotional.

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