My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. If you’ve yet to read My Brilliant Friend, and the three books that follow, boy are you in for a good holiday. Ferrante’s
Neopolitan Novels, as the series is known, tell the story of two friends, Lenù and Lila, as they grow from children to adults in Naples, Italy. Besides the gleaming power of the characters and writing, the story features long summer breaks on the island of Ischia — where better to be this summer?
You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen. This isn’t a book recommendation, but
if Bob Dylan can win the Nobel Prize for Literature... A few weeks ago, after too
many Negroni Royales (the campari and gin cocktail, topped off with champagne), friends and I collapsed onto a couch and listened, concentrating, to music. It was a bit silly, but this holiday, spend an hour just sitting comfortably (or sprawled on a cool wooden floor), listening to one of Cohen’s
albums and reading the lyrics, perhaps drinking Campari. His most recent and last, You Want It Darker, is as beautiful as any.
The Magistrate of Gower by Claire Robertson. Robertson is my mother, so I’ll leave this to Michele Magwood, who reviewed the book when it came out in
2015: “She has the crispness and economy of Coetzee, the subtle, oblique depth of Vladislaviç, the storytelling spell of Galgut and Mda. She is technically faultless and intensely imaginative. But she has something more, an affecting,
profound humanity that is entirely her own.”
Helen Sullivan is editor of the literary journal Prufrock.