Romesh Gunesekera

Booker short-listed author of nine books. Most recent book of fiction is Noontide Toll published by Granta. Also co-author of Novel Writing : A Writers’ & Artists’ Companion from Bloomsbury.

The Grass Harp

Truman Capote

After being on my shelf for decades, this book fell into my hands the other day as if from a tree.
I suspect this slim book about two women and a boy hiding in a tree house, is not as widely read as Capote’s other more famous books, but the writing is gorgeous. Even to dip into a paragraph is as refreshing as a sip of something deliciously cool on a warm summer’s day.

The Bookshop

Penelope Fitzgerald

Another slim book, beautifully and deftly done. A salutary tale about starting a bookshop in small East Anglian town. It can be finished in a day, but has that rare quality that allows it to grow in a reader’s mind and call you back, again and again.

Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not)

Jose Rizal

Novels can have consequences: this is the book that sparked the 1896 revolution against Spanish rule in the Philippines. A novel of politics, of language, of unrequited love and colonial melodrama. Not always an easy read, but it has a lovely immediacy and a rare glimpse of a world that has no parallel: nineteenth-century Manila, a complicated blend of Spain and Asia.

The Selected Poems of Lorca

Frederico Garcia Lorca

Reading Lorca’s poems again reminded me of just how extraordinarily he is able to touch his reader across time and place and politics. With the sun, the moon and the stars and a dash of green or black, he seems to be able to do everything. My favourite edition is the New Directions one from the 1960s, but there are many wonderful new ones available.

Good Behaviour

Molly Keane

I was introduced to this book on the Radio 4 A Good Read programme. A real treat. Wickedly funny, razor-sharp writing. A very dark comedy that could polarise opinion, but I found it a delight.