With several newspapers now carrying helpful tips on what books you might read during your summer hols, I feel that normblog has to make an effort to compete. Here are half a dozen suggestions from me, all recently published novels that I've read this year and can recommend as being worth your time - and then one 'golden oldie'.
Serious Things by Gregory Norminton is an intriguing story of public school life and the calamity that ends a friendship, and it also touches on more global serious things. In Home, Marilynne Robinson explores the particularities of one family's troubled history through the conversations between a brother and sister and their father. It is a most affecting meditation. Stefan Zweig's The Post Office Girl charts dramatically the escape of a young woman into the high life she relishes and the consequences of her being thrust back into her day job. In Brooklyn, possibly his best novel to date - and that's with some competition - Colm Tóibín takes his central protagonist from southern Ireland to the US and he conveys with simplicity and great force the tension between her two resulting worlds. Andrew Sean Greer's The Story of a Marriage is at once what it says it is and a complex journey full of narrative surprises. Darker than all these is Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel; it weaves Europe's irredeemable mid-20th century catastrophe into a mythic landscape and thereby makes it thinkable afresh as more than stale news.
I throw in for good measure and in case you haven't read it (as, until a week or two ago, I hadn't), The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth. This book is funny about the ambitions of the young writer and for its Jewish-father-and-son shtick. Mainly, however, I recommend it for a single brilliantly contrived comic moment - one of the best fictional laughs I can remember.