Summer Books of 2022: Literary Nonfiction
Last call at the Imperial Hotel: The reporters who tackled a world at war
by Deborah Cohen, William Collins 25 €
Cohen’s group biography explores the lives of four young American journalists who invaded the media world like behemoths in the 1930s. They interviewed Trotsky, Gandhi and Mussolini, tracked down Hitler’s relatives, advised President Roosevelt and inspired the character of Katharine Hepburn in Woman of the Year and Alfred Hitchcock Foreign correspondent. Fast and captivating.
In the margins: On the pleasures of reading and writing
by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein, €12.99
This small volume of four original essays exploring reading and writing reveals Ferrante’s art and the inspiration behind it. Fans of his novels will find familiar themes here, and the collection as a whole serves to illuminate Ferrante’s fiction.
The fairy tales: A journey into the secret history of fairy tales
by Nicholas Jubber, John Murray 20 €
“Cinderella”, “Hansel and Gretel”, “Beauty and the Beast” – these are beloved fairy tales handed down and told again and again. But who were the storytellers behind them? Jubber’s captivating book celebrates these magical stories and explores the strange and unlikely people who originally brought them to life.
The Office of Premonitions: A true story
by Sam Knight, Faber £14.99 / penguin press $28
Knight’s tale is a riveting tale by John Barker, an eccentric English psychiatrist, and an experiment in dreams and precognitions of future events run by the London Evening Standard newspaper in the 1960s. A compelling and compulsive story about the search for meaning in an unpredictable world.
Rascals: True Stories of Scammers, Killers, Rebels and Swindlers
by Patrick Radden Keefe, Picador £20/double day $30
Last years empire of pain told the story of the Sackler family and the OxyContin scandal in the United States. Keefe follows his award-winning opus with a collection of 12 pen portraits (originally published in The New Yorker), which are no less compelling for sketching on a smaller canvas.
tell us what you think
What are your favorites on this list – and what books did we miss? Tell us in the comments below
super-infinity: The Transformations of John Donne
by Katherine Rundell, £19.99
Soldier, poet, prisoner and priest, John Donne – a contemporary of Shakespeare – was many things, which made him a tricky biographical subject. However, Rundell, a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, produced a remarkable life of the great poet of love, sex and death. His biography, writes the FT reviewer, “lives up to its subject: a sensitive, witty, lean and copious book.”
I used to live here once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys
by Miranda Seymour, William Collins 25 €
Seymour’s biography of the contrarian author of Wide Sargasso Sea is lucid but sympathetic. It not only tells the story of an extraordinary and complicated life, but offers an appreciation of Rhys’ great literary legacy that is sure to send readers back to his novels.
Circus of Dreams: Adventures in the literary world of the 1980s
by John Walsh, Police officer £25
In the 1980s, the publishing industry exploded thanks to a new generation of writers such as Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and Angela Carter. John Walsh, a longtime book critic and commentator, recounts how the decade’s literary scene dispelled previously “moribund, backward and obsolete” British attitudes and prose. An immersive, celebrity-studded memoir written with verve.
Summer books 2022
All this week, FT writers and critics are sharing their favourites. Some highlights are:
Monday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Tuesday: Business by Andrew Hill
Wednesday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Thursday: Story by Tony Barber
Friday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Saturday: Critics’ Choice
Join our online book group on Facebook at FT Books Coffee