Books for the beach – and the brain – this summer
John Banville, Kathleen MacMahon, John Boyne, Joseph O’Connor and more on what they’ll be reading
So far this year I’ve enjoyed the debut novel by Rebecca O’Connor, He Is Mine and I Have No Other, about secrets, youth and silence in rural Ireland, Emilie Pine’s frank and visceral essay collection Notes to Self, and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, which depicts the wrongful imprisonment of a young black man in the American south, and the effect of this trauma on his marriage. I’m looking forward, over the summer, to reading The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen, a debut about “letter detectives”, as well as The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (a novel set in art-world Chicago during the Aids epidemic), Sharp by Michelle Dean (a group biography of “women with opinions”, including Mary McCarthy, Joan Didion and Hannah Arendt) and the novel My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, described as “satire meets slasher”, and set in present-day Nigeria.
I know it was published last year, but all the same I am going to choose Anthony Powell, by Hilary Spurling. I have just discovered Powell’s immensely subtle and entertaining novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time, and am glad I did, before it became too late and I had to quit the dance floor. So closely does Powell mirror his life in his novels that often while reading Hilary Spurling’s biography I felt I was back, blissfully, in his fictional world.