by Monica Ali, Virago £18.99 / Scribner $27.99
It’s been nearly 20 years since Ali burst onto the literary scene with his debut brick path. His latest novel Love marriage – which follows Yasmin Ghorami and Joe Sangster, a pair of young Londoners, with their extended families, as they struggle with marriage, relationships and the weight of cultural expectations – marks its triumphant return.
by Elif Batuman, Cape Jonathan £16.99 / Penguin $27
The sequel to 2017 The idiot sees Selin, the protagonist of Batuman (and, in a sense, her alter ego), returning for her second year at Harvard. It’s 1996, and hapless winner Selin is preoccupied with her burgeoning sexuality, the inherent conflict of her Turkish-American heritage, and the writings of Søren Kierkegaard. Whether or is both an entertaining campus novel and an engaging discussion of the very nature and purpose of novels.
by NoViolet Bulawayo, Chatto & Windus £18.99/Viking $27
Bulawayo started writing Glory – a compelling satire on the cycles of tyranny – following the overthrow of Robert Mugabe in 2017. Drawing directly from farm animalwith the animal citizens of Jidada (a fictional Zimbabwe) living in the shadow of the Old Horse, their frail but despotic leader, Glory delights in the absurd but offers a terrifying view of political disintegration for today’s readers.
by Elizabeth Lowry, Riverrun €18.99
The chosen begins with a death — that of Emma, wife of English novelist Thomas Hardy, in 1912 — but becomes a lyrical meditation on love and literary inspiration. Lowry’s richly evocative novel immerses the reader in Hardy’s daily life at Max Gate, the Dorset home he built for himself, as he rakes the ashes of his strained marriage and channels his grief into the extraordinary. burst of creativity that was the “Poems of 1912-13”.
The perfect golden circle
by Benjamin Myers Bloomsbury £16.99/Melville House $27.99
Summer 1989, and the UK is in the throes of the crop-circle mania. Myers’ novel – which follows a motley pair of folk artists (including a Falklands veteran) as they create increasingly intricate patterns in fields of wheat over 10 hot nights – is brilliantly constructed and steeped in a rural atmosphere, although the book itself never quite delivers on its initial promises.
Spies in Canaan
by David Parc, Bloomsbury €16.99
When Michael Miller, a retired American spy who served in Vietnam during the fall of Saigon, receives a strange package in the mail, he is forced to reconsider the multiple gray areas of American foreign policy as well as his own moral righteousness. . In less than 200 pages, Spies in Canaan is one of the most powerful and in-depth novels so far this year.
tell us what you think
What are your favorites on this list – and what books did we miss? Tell us in the comments below
Our friends in the country
by Gary Shteyngart, Allen & Unwin £14.99 / Random house $28
One of the first – and best – containment novels, Our friends in the country traps a mismatched group of overeducated and underemployed friends in an upstate New York mansion during the first wave of Covid-19. Shteyngart fleshes out its scholarly premise (hints of Boccaccio and Chekhov abound) with wacky comedy, as rivalries and romantic machinations push its characters to breaking point.
by Douglas Stuart Picador £16.99 / Grove press $27
Winner of the Booker Prize 2020 with his debut Shuggie bathStuart returns with another novel set in the working-class Glasgow of his own youth. Young Mungo – which revolves around the impossible romance between two teenagers, one Protestant, the other Catholic – captures a world of suffering and sectarian violence with writing of transcendent beauty.
A night of fighting
by Miriam Toews, Faber £14.99 / Bloomsbury $24
Swiv, the “hundred month” protagonist of A night of fighting, is that rare thing: a child narrator who is engaging, compelling and utterly distinctive. Taking the form of a letter Swiv writes to his absent father, Toews’ eighth novel chronicles the trauma suffered by three generations of a Toronto-based family. But she’s mastered the art of balancing dark emotion with wild, effervescent humor – often in the same sentence.
by Hanya Yanagihara, Picador £20/double day $32.50
Yanagihara’s Epic Sequel to 2015’s A little life tackles the themes of pandemic, political repression and environmental crisis over three different time periods and 700 pages in a hugely ambitious journey through the American experience. “Both thriller and intensely moving”, according to the magazine FT, In Paradise is “a master stroke”.
Summer books 2022
All this week, FT writers and critics are sharing their favourites. Some highlights are:
Monday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Tuesday: Environment by Pilita Clark
Wednesday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Thursday: Story by Tony Barber
Friday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Saturday: Critics’ Choice
Join our online book group on Facebook at FT Books Coffee