Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
An epic social critique spanning three continents, Americanah digs deep into issues of race and class in the US, London and Nigeria. A woman navigates racial politics in Obama-era academia as her childhood sweetheart tackles London immigrant life with finely tuned observations on smug Islington dinner parties and illegal work. Adichie’s novels are heartfelt and sprawling, digging deep beneath the surface to challenge our assumptions. Read Americanah early and pass it around – you’ll spend the rest of your holiday talking about it.
Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
A holiday villa in the south of France, marriages under strain, a girl swimming naked in a pool. So far, so typical, but things are about to unravel. When Deborah Levy’s dark, complex novel gets under your skin, it’ll make you take a sideways look at your holiday companions.
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Bullfights, fistfights, absinthe in Pamplona, champagne on the Boulevard Montparnasse. Hemingway’s classic follows a group of dissolute expats through post-war France and Spain with such gusto, you’ll feel like you’re tagging along. Best read with a strong drink and lit cigar.
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
Sebastian Barry’s Costa Prizewinning novel is a love story dressed up as a western, sweeping across 19th Century America with two young men caught up in the hardships of army life. From dance bars to Sioux camps to gunslingers in frocks, this story of identity and belonging has a tenderness as unexpected as its plot.
Wilful Disregard by Lena Andersson
The quiet intensity of this portrayal of a one-sided love affair will leave you squirming. Andersson’s writing is honest, brutal and funny in equal measure. Shout at Ester – our deluded protagonist - from your lounger, or just read with a quiet grimace as Andersson’s exquisite prose makes Ester’s romantic plight seem achingly familiar.
The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
Booker Prizewinner Marlon James is a master storyteller and in this brutal, devastating account of an early 19th Century Jamaican sugar plantation, his characters come alive on the page. Lilith the green-eyed rebel, Homer the healer and destroyer; their voices will stay with you, long after you’ve finished reading.
My Antonia by Willa Cather
The vast landscape of Willa Cather’s American midwest lies at the heart of this 1918 classic, as fundamental to the narrative as her hard-bitten pioneering characters. Close your eyes in a gentle breeze and you’ll feel yourself standing in prairie grass, taking in the “breathless, brilliant heat” of a Nebraskan summer.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Sally Rooney uses her powers of observation to bring an on-off relationship to life. With astounding details and minimal punctuation, she pulls you into a world so astutely drawn it verges on voyeurism. Want to get away from it all? Normal People will send you straight to student Dublin, peering into someone else’s life.
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