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The Booker Prize longlist novels to add to your summer reading list

That's our summer reading sorted!

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Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
24 July 2019
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The Booker Prize longlist was announced on Tuesday, and we think it is the perfect place to start to get some ideas for summer reading! From the upcoming novel by Margaret Atwood to the latest Salman Rushdie, the longlist is an assortment of comedy and tragedy, and will definitely keep you hooked. Do any of them take your fancy? See which novels made the cut here...

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Although the much-anticipated follow-up from The Handmaid's Tale, The Testaments, has yet to be published, clearly the Booker Prize judges got their hands on an early copy, and it looks like it'll most certainly will be worth the wait. Out in September, the new novel takes place 15 years after the events of the first novel, and looks at three women living in Gilead.

READ: HELLO!'s first summer book club pick: Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams

Speaking about the novel, Margaret Atwood said: "Dear Readers: Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in."

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10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak

The novel follows a woman in the throes of death, and the synopsis reads: "For Leila, each minute after her death brings a sensuous memory: the taste of spiced goat stew, sacrificed by her father to celebrate the long-awaited birth of a son; the sight of bubbling vats of lemon and sugar which the women use to wax their legs while the men attend mosque; the scent of cardamom coffee that Leila shares with a handsome student in the brothel where she works. Each memory, too, recalls the friends she made at each key moment in her life - friends who are now desperately trying to find her."

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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

The novel follows Korede, who has to help her sister clean up after murdering her third boyfriend. The synopsis reads: "She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede's long been in love with him, and isn't prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other."

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Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Described by Elif Shafak as "one of those writers who should be read by everyone, everywhere," Bernardine's novel "follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years."

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The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy

This will be the third time Deborah has been in the Booker prize longlist, with her novels Hot Milk and Swimming Home both making the cut. Her latest novel focuses on Saul Adler, a historian in 1988 who is invited to East Berlin for research purposes, but only on the agreement he writes a positive essay about the Communist area. The synopsis reads: "As a gift for his translator's sister, a Beatles fanatic who will be his host, Saul's girlfriend will shoot a photograph of him standing in the crosswalk on Abbey Road, an homage to the famous album cover. As he waits for her to arrive, he is grazed by an oncoming car, which changes the trajectory of his life."

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Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry

With a Goodreads rating of 4.09, this is definitely one that should be missed. The novel follows two Irishmen, Maurice and Charlie, who have had a long career in drug smuggling. As they wait for Maurice's daughter to arrive via ferry, the pair reminisce of their "shared history of violence, romance, mutual betrayals and serial exiles".

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Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli

This novel follows a family road trip from New York to Arizona. While the father ones to gather an 'inventory of echoes' from their destination of the Apacheria, the mother wants to learn moe about the children trying to reach America but being left at the border. The synopsis: "A fissure is growing between the parents, one the children can feel beneath their feet. They are led, inexorably, to a grand, unforgettable adventure--both in the harsh desert landscape and within the chambers of their own imaginations. Told through the voices of the mother and her son, as well as through a stunning tapestry of collected texts and images--including prior stories of migration and displacement--Lost Children Archive is a story of how we document our experiences, and how we remember the things that matter to us the most."

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Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann

With a whopping 4.42 Goodreads score, we already know we'll be picking up a copy! The synopsis reads "Latticing one cherry pie after another, an Ohio housewife tries to bridge the gaps between reality and the torrent of meaningless info that is the United States of America. She worries about her children, her dead parents, African elephants, the bedroom rituals of happy couples, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and how to hatch an abandoned wood pigeon egg. Is there some trick to surviving survivalists? School shootings? Medical debts? Franks ’n’ beans?" 

READ: Excellent summer reads you need to try 

"A scorching indictment of America’s barbarity, past and present, and a lament for the way we are sleepwalking into environmental disaster, Ducks, Newburyport is a heresy, a wonder—and a revolution in the novel. It’s also very, very funny."

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Frankissstein: A Love Story by Jeanette Winterson

Anyone like a bit of fiction about AI intelligence? This novel follows a transgender doctor called Ry who falls in love with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor leading the public debate around AI. The synopsis reads: "Meanwhile, Ron Lord, just divorced and living with Mum again, is set to make his fortune launching a new generation of sex dolls for lonely men everywhere. Across the Atlantic, in Phoenix, Arizona, a cryogenics facility houses dozens of bodies of men and women who are medically and legally dead… but waiting to return to life. But the scene is set in 1816, when nineteen-year-old Mary Shelley writes a story about creating a non-biological life-form. ‘Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful.' What will happen when homo sapiens is no longer the smartest being on the planet? Jeanette Winterson shows us how much closer we are to that future than we realise. Funny and furious, bold and clear-sighted, Frankissstein is a love story about life itself."

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An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

If you like Greek myths, this is definitely one for you. The synopsis reads: "A contemporary twist on the Odyssey, An Orchestra of Minorities is narrated by the chi, or spirit of a young poultry farmer named Chinonso. His life is set off course when he sees a woman who is about to jump off a bridge. Horrified by her recklessness, he hurls two of his prized chickens off the bridge. The woman, Ndali, is stopped in her tracks. Chinonso and Ndali fall in love but she is from an educated and wealthy family. When her family objects to the union on the grounds that he is not her social equal, he sells most of his possessions to attend college in Cyprus. But when he arrives in Cyprus, he discovers that he has been utterly duped by the young Nigerian who has made the arrangements for him. Penniless, homeless, we watch as he gets further and further away from his dream and from home."

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Lanny by Max Porter

The synopsis of this 4.2 rated book reads: "There's a village sixty miles outside London. It's no different from many other villages in England: one pub, one church, red-brick cottages, council cottages and a few bigger houses dotted about. Voices rise up, as they might do anywhere, speaking of loving and needing and working and dying and walking the dogs. This village belongs to the people who live in it and to the people who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England’s mysterious past and its confounding present."

READ: Best books to keep children and teenagers entertained this summer

"But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort, a figure schoolchildren used to draw green and leafy, choked by tendrils growing out of his mouth. Dead Papa Toothwort is awake. He is listening to this twenty-first-century village, to his English symphony. He is listening, intently, for a mischievous, enchanting boy whose parents have recently made the village their home. Lanny." Spooked? So are we.

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The Wall by John Lanchester

Fans of The Debt to Pleasure and Capital will love John's new novel! The dystopian novel focuses on an island nation which surrounds itself with a wall around the border. The synopsis reads: "Joseph Kavanagh, a new Defender, has one task: to protect his section of the Wall from the Others, the desperate souls who are trapped amid the rising seas outside and attack constantly. Failure will result in death or a fate perhaps worse: being put to sea and made an Other himself. Beset by cold, loneliness, and fear, Kavanagh tries to fulfill his duties to his demanding Captain and Sergeant, even as he grows closer to his fellow Defenders. And then the Others attack."  

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Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

A Don Quixote for the modern age, this novel follows "a courtly, addled salesman obsessed with television, who falls in impossible love with a TV star. Together with his (imaginary) son Sancho, Quichotte sets off on a picaresque quest across America to prove worthy of her hand, gallantly braving the tragicomic perils of an age where 'Anything-Can-Happen'. Meanwhile his creator, in a midlife crisis, has equally urgent challenges of his own."

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