Tuesday July 18, 2017
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George Saunders' 'Lincoln in the Bardo' — AFP picGeorge Saunders' 'Lincoln in the Bardo' — AFP picNEW YORK, July 18 — Lazy summer days are ahead, and the avid readers among us will be looking to spend them with a beloved book in hand. Below, some of the biggest novels of 2017, just waiting for a long break and your full attention.

George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo

This debut novel by the acclaimed short story writer is set in 1862, when Abraham Lincoln's son Willie died after falling gravely ill. Saunders' tale takes that historical truth into a supernatural realm. Those who prefer the audiobook will enjoy its star-studded, 166-strong cast, featuring Julianne Moore, Susan Sarandon and Don Cheadle.

Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Roy's 20-years-in-the-making sophomore novel is set on the Indian sub-continent, where it delves into the lives of several characters — a resident of a graveyard, a baby, a bereaved father writing a letter to his deceased daughter, a lone woman reading through old notebooks in her apartment, and a couple at a guest house — whom Roy calls “mad souls.”Arundhati Roy's 'The Ministry of Utmost Happiness' — AFP picArundhati Roy's 'The Ministry of Utmost Happiness' — AFP pic

Paul Auster, 4 3 2 1

The author's first novel in seven years was a best-seller upon its release in January. The coming-of-age story starts with the birth of a boy in a New York hospital and follows him as he takes four simultaneous and independent fictional paths, each of which sees him fall under the spell of the same girl.

Elizabeth Strout, Anything is Possible

Pulitzer Prize-winner Strout brings back the title character from My Name is Lucy Barton as one of the characters in this novel set in small-town America. Family bonds and reconciliation are found in the stories of two sisters, a janitor, a grown daughter whose mother lives abroad and the adult Lucy.

Colm Toibin, House of Names

Irish writer Tóibín has written a retelling of the Greek tale of Clytemnestra, who ruled ancient Mycenae after her husband, King Agamemnon, set sail for Troy. Together with her new lover, she plots the murder of Agamemnon on the day of his return — an act of revenge that is examined with nuance here.

Mohsin Hamid, Exit West

Pakistani author Hamid follows two young people as they embark on a love affair in a country on the brink of civil war. Nadia and Saeed ultimately make the decision to leave their homeland in this story of emigration and uncertainty.

Elif Batuman, The Idiot

This debut novel from New York staff writer Batuman is called “a portrait of the artist as a young woman,” following a character on the cusp of adulthood as she attends Harvard in the mid-1990s and spends a summer in Europe, experiencing first love and realising she is “doomed to become a writer.” — AFP-Relaxnews

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