The Guest List: An alternative to the Booker longlist

Not quite satisfied with the Booker longlist announced last week? The Independent on Sunday's Literary Editor comes up with her alternative selection of must-read novels for the summer

'The Yips', by Nicola Barker (Fourth Estate)

The third Booker-longlisted novel by Barker refers to an ageing golfer, reduced to eking out his fame in a late night bar. A similar tale of the angst of the fading sportsman is told in Rodge Glass's Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs: the bitter and hilarious story of a Manchester United drop-out. Given the timing, however, Chris Cleave's Gold is a more appropriate story of Olympic cycling success. Sporting refuseniks, try Philip Hensher's Scenes from Early Life – the fictionalised story of a real life boy, growing up during the creation of Bangladesh. With no running.

'The Teleportation Accident', by Ned Beauman (Sceptre)

Described by The IoS's reviewer as an "ingenious work of fiction joining the dots between Nazism, sci-fi, espionage, sex, politics, art and quantum physics", it was compared to Jake Arnott's brilliant The House of Rumour, which, by an amazing literary coincidence, could be described in much the same terms. Beauman acknowledges the influence of Jennifer Egan's 2011 novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, so fans should look out for her ebook-only Black Box, published on 6 September. Beauman has also been compared to Stuart Evers, whose If This Is Home was published this month.

'Philida', by André Brink (Harvill Secker)

Set in 1832 South Africa, Philida describes what happens when its heroine takes a stand against her master. Ripples of the story have run through several novels this year: Kate Grenville's Sarah Thornhill traces an innocent love affair across a backdrop of racial tension and murder in 19th-century Australia; Toni Morrison follows a soldier, back home in racist America just after the Korean war, in Home; and Attica Locke's The Cutting Season, published on 6 September, finds a 21st-century woman living in an old plantation house in Louisiana.

'The Garden of Evening Mists', by Tan Twan Eng (Myrmidon Books)

The second novel by the already Booker-longlisted Tan is set in 1950s Malaya. For more novels named after times of the day and starring strong-willed women at turning points in history, try Susannah Jones's When Nights Were Cold – for Edwardian derring-do, female friendship gone wrong, and mountaineering – and The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson, published on 16 August, which takes the 1612 Pendle Witch Trials as the starting point for a sinister story about religion and obsession.

'Skios', by Michael Frayn (Faber & Faber)

Michael Frayn's comedy about Brits abroad "has all the bottom-slapping subtlety of 'Allo 'Allo, and yet Frayn's keen ear for dialogue and acute understanding of twisted internal reasoning pulls it back from the end of the pier", wrote The IoS's reviewer. Equally disastrous as a template for a peaceful family holiday is Mark Haddon's The Red House – a subtle and gripping novel about what happens when two dysfunctional families get together for a wet week in Wales. David Parks's The Light of Amsterdam is more optimistic about how time away from home can heal relationships, while Joanne Harris's Peaches for Monsieur le Curé will again make readers yearn for the fictional village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes as it continues the adventures of Chocolat's Vianne Rocher.

'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry', by Rachel Joyce (Doubleday)

A man leaves home to post a letter and finds himself on a spontaneous pilgrimage. It sounds somewhat like the plot of The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared – a novel by Jonas Jonasson that does exactly what it does on the cover. The story of Allan Karlsson, who escapes his old people's home and takes us on a glorious tour of the 20th century, was already a bestseller in Europe before it was published here this month. Fans of the format are probably already familiar with Peter Benson and his crazy adventure Two Cows and Vanful of Smoke, so look out for his new novel Isabel's Skin on 30 August.

'Swimming Home', by Deborah Levy (And Other Stories)

Another novel that's probably not best read before a holiday, the latest by Levy is a taut story about depression's effect on a group of tourists in the French Riviera. For light relief before a trip to France you might prefer Dan Rhodes's This Is Life – a deliciously quirky story which unfolds after a young art student in Paris throws a stone and hits a baby. For total French immersion, try Thérèse and Isabelle by Violette Leduc, about an affair between two teenage girls at a French boarding school. A cheat this one, as it was first published in 1954, but the first uncensored, unabridged version in English was published in February.

'Bring Up the Bodies', by Hilary Mantel (Fourth Estate)

The even more wonderful sequel to the 2009 Man Booker-winning Wolf Hall, the second in Mantel's trilogy traces the Anne Boleyn period of Henry VIII's reign. This has been a good year for historical fiction, with Stella Duffy's The Purple Shroud, the sequel to her popular Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore, picking up the story of the empress of Rome, and Madeline Miller's Orange Prize-winning The Song of Achilles making explicit the love affair between the Greek hero and his companion Patroclus – with some of the sexiest fictional sex of the year. Philippa Gregory's The Kingmaker's Daughters and Alison Weir's A Dangerous Inheritance are as compelling as fans will expect.

'The Lighthouse', by Alison Moore (Salt)

Another Damascene holiday experience, as a man on a week-long trip along the Rhine looks back on his abandonment by his mother. A haunting and accomplished novel, but also a good excuse to mention that Virginia Woolf's novels (including To the Lighthouse) have recently been brought out in neat ebook form, and that Ancient Light would have been another worthy Man Booker contender for once-shortlisted and once-winner John Banville. Among this year's best newcomers was Charlotte Rogan's The Lifeboat, about a group of survivors of a shipping disaster.

'Umbrella', by Will Self (Bloomsbury)

Amazingly, Self has been shortlisted three times for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award but, at least until now, not once for the Man Booker Prize. His Awakenings-style tale of a maverick psychiatrist may at last put that right. Strange healing powers were also a part of Benjamin Wood's The Bellwether Revivals, a disturbing tale in which a young man aims to cure the sick with music. Craig Raine's The Divine Comedy may take Self's place on the Bad Sex shortlist, with its breathtakingly poetic and explicit images of body parts.

'Narcopolis', by Jeet Thayil (Faber & Faber)

"A city in collision with itself" is portrayed in the first novel by the Indian poet, novelist, librettist and musician Thayil. Modern India is also the subject of Kishwar Desai's heartrending Origins of Love, about the surrogacy industry there. One story from the immense historical background to these stories is told in Alison McQueen's The Secret Children, set in Assam in 1925.

'Communion Town', by Sam Thompson (Fourth Estate)

Like Beauman's novel, this has been compared to David Mitchell's Ghostwritten. The other top 2012 novels about human settlements of various sizes, then, are The Fall of the Stone City (published on 30 August) by the Man Booker International Prize-winning author Ismael Kadare, and The Village, by Nikita Lalwani, which is set in an open prison in India. Finally, for an old-fashioned English novel by a writer at the top of her game, and just because, read How It All Began, by Penelope Lively – one of the most satisfying novels in a very good year.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
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.

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?