t long last, it’s officially holiday season. You’ve booked the flights and hotel, your out-of-office wardrobe is ready to go and travel miniatures packed, now there’s just one thing to take care of before you depart. No, not travel locator forms and PCR tests, I’m talking about what you’ll be reading as you bask under the hot sun of some faraway locale. And thankfully there are plenty of books to keep you occupied as you work on that tan. From thrilling debut novels to highly-anticipated releases by award-winning authors, these are the best books to read in summer 2022.
The Doloriad by Missouri Williams
Missouri Williams’ haunting debut novel, set on the edges of a deserted post-apocalyptic city, follows a family born of incest as they fight for survival, scavenging for supplies and attempting to revive the contaminated earth. Ruled by a fearsome figurehead, named the Matriarch, who dreams of restarting humanity in her image, the family’s fragile order begins to unravel following the return of Dolores, a daugter sent away to be married off, as the Matriarch loses control and her children seize upon this opportunity to escape. Viscerally grotesque, mysterious and captivating, and peppered with moments of dark humuor, this brutal tale of depravity and deliverance is a dystopic study of the human condition and the lengths to which we may go to cling onto our existence, no matter how paltry it may be.
Out now, Dead Ink, £9.99, deadinkbooks.com
Good Pop, Bad Pop by Jarvis Cocker
When Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker began clearing out his overstuffed attic, he stumbled upon a tangle of ephemera that chronicles his history and poses some uncomfortable questions. “Who do you think you are?” he asks himself, delving into the jumble. From an ancient packet of chewing gum and a worn-out bar of Imperial Leather, to his teenaged attempts at songwriting and a Gold Star shirt, this accumulation of his first 25 years – the quarter century prior to his turn as a Brit Pop star – charts Cocker’s distinct journey, through discovering his style at car boot sales and honing his creative process, to his acceptance at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. A memoir written through object memory, this intimate, self-deprecating retelling of the musician’s earlier years is truly a trip down memory lane.
Out now, Vintage Publishing, £20, blackwells.co.uk
Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola
Kiki Banjo, host of popular student radio show Brown Sugar and an expert in relationship-evasion, is resolved to ensure the women of the Afro-Caribbean society at fictional Whitewell University are protected from heartbreak and dreaded ‘situationships’. But when she kisses newcomer Malakai Korede, the man she just denounced as ‘The Wasteman of Whitewell’, in front of every Black student on campus, Kiki soon finds herself embroiled in a false relationship as she struggles to redeem her reputation and save her show. Sparkling with desire and thick with romantic tension, this debut novel from Sunday Times best-selling writer Bolu Babalola (author of Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold) is already being tipped as the hottest romantic comedy of 2022.
Out 5 July 2022, William Morrow, £15.20, wordery.com
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
The latest outing from the Nobel Prize-winning author of Never Let Me Go, centres on Klara, an Artificial Friend who, while hoping to be chosen by a family, carefully observes the behaviour of customers who come into the store that is her home, and of those who pass by its windows day after day. When she is taken home to be a companion to sickly Josie, Klara begins to glean what it means to be human, learning more about the world and her place in it, as well as what it means for her, an AI, to love.
Out now, Faber & Faber, £8.99, faber.co.uk
Notes on Heartbreak by Annie Lord
This brutally honest memoir from journalist and Vogue columnist Annie Lord picks candidly through the debris of a broken relationship in reverse. As Lord heals her broken heart, she revisits the vignettes that brought her to the present, from the moment she fell in love, to the easy intimacy built on five years of mutual understanding and the slow breakdown of that bond over the course of a few months. Free of pretense and painfully relatable for anyone who has ever dealt with heartbreak, this cathartic retelling acts as a reminder of the dichotomies of love – the euphoric highs and crushing lows – and its beautiful, messy realities.
Out 23 June, Orion, £16.99, foyles.co.uk
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield
Told through two distinct voices, the debut novel from Julia Armfield, author of short story collection Salt Slow, charts the slow deterioration of a marriage and the composite parts of its breakdown. Following the return of her wife, Leah, from a disastrous deep sea mission, Miri struggles to reconcile the woman that she sent off to sea with the one sharing her home at present. As Leah’s story is brought to light and Miri feels life as she knew it slipping away, the novel traces the changes in their relationship as Miri grieves its loss and the two women find their love transformed.
Out now, Pan Macmillan, £15.79, bookshop.org
People Person by Candice Carty-Williams
Candice Carty-Williams, authour of best-selling Queenie, returns with this humorously cynical yet hopeful tale of family, belonging and that which ties us together. Following a dramatic turn of events, 30-year-old aspiring influencer Dimple Pennington turns to her sister for help and is brought together with her four half-siblings after a lifetime of estrangement. Forced to reconnect with their absentee father, Cyril, the five of them find their lives changing beyond their control as the complexities surrounding their respective upbringings begin to surface.
Out now, Orion, £12.99, waterstones.com
Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell
Set in northern India, Tomb of Sand tells the story of an 80-year-old woman who, following the death of her husband, falls into a deep depressive episode, only to resurface again with a new lease on life, bewildering her bohemian daughter with her newfound disavowal of convention – including beginning a friendship with a trans woman. Travelling to Pakistan, the older woman must at once confront the trauma left by her teenage experience of Partition, while reconsidering her existence as a mother, a woman and a feminist.
Out now, Tilted Axis Press, £12, bookshop.org
Wahala by Nikki May
Soon to be a BBC series, Nikki May’s debut novel Wahala centres on three Nigerian-English friends, Ronke, Simi and Boo, who live in London. As they deal with everyday racism and life after 30, causing them to begin questioning their futures, Isobel, a friend from their past, resurfaces determined to fix things. But as cracks begin to show, it soon becomes clear that Isobel is doing more harm than good and when she commits a terrible act, the three friends must revisit a crime from their history that could have just repeated itself.
Out now, Doubleday, £14.99, foyles.co.uk
You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
New York Times bestselling author Akwaeke Emezi reimagines the classic love story with this refreshing tale of the search for joy in the wake of loss. Five years after the love of her life was killed in an accident, artist Feyi Adekola is encouraged to begin dating again by her best friend Joy. Though not looking for anything serious, a steamy rendezvous at a rooftop party descends into a whirlwind summer romance that she never saw coming. Finally finding herself in a new relationship, Feyi’s newfound bliss is quickly disrupted as she finds herself drawn to someone she shouldn’t be. Reeling in the complexities of her new life, Feyi must reckon with her grief and let go of the past in order to take hold of her future and a second chance at love.
Out now, Faber & Faber, £12.99, waterstones.com