Guest List: The IoS Literary Editor picks the best books for your summer holiday

Before you stuff your luggage with this year's Man Booker longlist titles, Katy Guest makes a case for some varied alternatives

NoViolet Bulawayo

We Need New Names (Chatto & Windus)

When a novel is praised by Helon Habila and Oprah Winfrey, you have to sit up. This story of 10-year-old Darling, who leaves a shanty town called Paradise for stricken Detroit, sets Bulawayo apart. In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah (Fourth Estate), middle-class girl Ifemelu is equally disillusioned by life in the US. Sharp, dry humour about racism and relationships in the States and Nigeria can make uncomfortable reading for white British middle-class liberals.

Jim Crace

Harvest (Picador)

Crace bows out from fiction on a high, but he leaves large shoes to fill. He grimaces at the idea that Harvest, about the threat from sinister outsiders to a small village, and vice versa, might be called Hardyesque, but he may like being compared with Granta Young British Novelist Evie Wyld, whose brilliant All the Birds, Singing (Jonathan Cape) brings a similar sense of menace to a remote island on which something is picking off the sheep …

Richard House

The Kills (Picador)

House's modern-fangled political thriller was first published with additional video and audio content in four digital parts, the first of which was given away on social networking sites. In hardback it comes in at a massive 912 pages. Fans of much shorter fiction will enjoy Marry Me by Dan Rhodes (Canongate), a collection of typically bitter-sweet, extra-short stories, some of which could probably fit into a tweet. But don't take it on your honeymoon.

Donal Ryan

The Spinning Heart (Doubleday Ireland)

Ryan's recent debut, set in rural Ireland in the aftermath of the country's financial collapse, captures the voice of a generation. That was once the job of Roddy Doyle, who now speaks for the Irish middle-aged with The Guts (Jonathan Cape). In it, The Commitments' Jimmy Rabbitte tells his family he has bowel cancer. On that theme, Iain Banks's The Quarry (Little, Brown) is the horribly autobiographical story of a man dying of cancer. It's heartbreaking.

Colum McCann

TransAtlantic (Bloomsbury)

McCann's eighth novel opens with the first nonstop transatlantic flight by Alcock and Brown in 1919, and is a blend of historical fact and pure fiction. Similarly, Michael Arditti's The Breath of Night (Arcadia) throws a cameo by Imelda Marcos into the tale of a young man sent to a remote Philippine village to investigate the sanctity of a dead missionary who finds violence, corruption and a rent boy turned driver. It's part Conrad, part Waugh, part Greene, and pure genius.

Charlotte Mendelson

Almost English (Mantle)

Marina is a descendant of Austro-Hungarian refugees who lives with relatives in a small flat until she goes to an English boarding school. Also bitingly good on teenage awkwardness is Kate Clanchy's Meeting the English (Picador), set in London during broiling summer and showing the English chattering classes through the eyes of a sensible young Scot. For an affectionate satire of Brits abroad, try Mr Lynch's Holiday by Catherine O'Flynn (Viking), set in expat Spain.

Tash Aw

Five Star Billionaire (Fourth Estate)

Aw's third novel, set in Shanghai, is a tale of failing to connect and profound loneliness. Another fine novel about the isolating effect of the crowd is Lionel Shriver's Big Brother (HarperCollins), a desperate story of a man eating himself to death. Also try Jane Gardam's brilliant Last Friends (Little, Brown), closing her Hong Kong-set Old Filth trilogy, in which we finally learn the secrets of Sir Terence Veneering.

Colm Tóibín

The Testament of Mary (Viking)

Toibin's 112-page novel is the first-person lament of the mother of Christ, which we called "searing, stunning work". Tiny novels have set encouraging precedents: Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach (166pp) made the 2007 shortlist, and Julian Barnes's 150-page The Sense of an Ending won in 2011. Also biblically inspired is J M Coetzee's dazzling The Childhood of Jesus (Harvill Secker), about a refugee and his stand-in dad.

Jhumpa Lahiri

The Lowland (Bloomsbury)

Set in Calcutta, this "deeply felt novel of family ties that entangle and fray in ways unforeseen and unrevealed" is due out in September. For a grounding in Calcutta's history, politics, food and atmosphere, first grab the non-fiction work Calcutta by the British-Indian writer Amit Chaudhuri (Union Books). The Independent wrote: "Chaudhuri's trysts with the past are entrancing in their lyricism... stunning in their intelligence and percipience."

Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries (Granta)

Its publishers are holding firm to their 5 September publication date, so this 832-page doorstopper about sinister hokey-pokey in the 19th-century New Zealand goldfields will have to wait. Just as well: the reviewer tasked with looking at an advance copy for The IoS says it's so good he's been unable to read another book since. Try instead Shire by Ali Smith (Full Circle Editions), four beautiful miniatures that you'll want to read and reread.

Ruth Ozeki

A Tale for the Time Being (Canongate)

I am told that on hearing about this being longlisted, Canongate staff launched a copy into the sea in a Hello Kitty lunchbox with a letter from the company – an echo of the plot, in which a woman on a Canadian beach finds a box of letters by a Japanese schoolgirl. This year's Man Booker judges presumably forgot that Canadian Margaret Atwood must always be longlisted, but her new novel, MaddAddam, (Bloomsbury, 15 August), the third in the Oryx and Crake trilogy, is sure to be a success.

Eve Harris

The Marrying of Chani Kaufman (Sandstone Press)

The IoS will run the first full-length national newspaper interview with Harris on 25 August, so stand by to read about her debut novel set in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of north-west London. We were also pleased to bagsie the first big interview with Polly Courtney for her novel Feral Youth (Matador), set across London in Peckham, in the run-up to the 2011 riots. Its 15 year-old heroine, Alesha, is the stand-out character of the year.

Alison MacLeod

Unexploded (Hamish Hamilton)

Hamish Hamilton, meanwhile, has brought forward to August this captivating story of a 1940s wartime wife who becomes caught up with a "degenerate" German-Jewish painter imprisoned in an internment camp run by her husband. If you can't wait that long, Kate Atkinson's Life After Life (Doubleday) explores the possible lives of a young woman growing up in England – and maybe Germany – before and during the Second World War.

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Shenaz Treasurywala
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all