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Sebastian Faulks tops summer critics picks despite luke warm reviews

05-Aug-2008 • Literary

Sebastian Faulks has seen off VS Naipaul as the author to be seen reading on holiday this summer, according to critics - reports The Guardian.

Among more than 600 reading recommendations from books pages, Faulks was the summer's most recommended author overall, chosen seven times in total for his new James Bond novel Devil May Care and his older titles Birdsong and Engleby.

But Naipaul also proved alluring, with Patrick French's biography of the Nobel prize winner, The World Is What It Is, recommended four times. Naipaul's own books Miguel Street, A Bend in the River and India were all also tipped as summer reads.

"The editors of the literary pages are to be congratulated for choosing old favourites as well as new titles this year," said James Smith, who compiled the list for books charity Booktrust. "Not everyone has the money in their pocket, or space in their luggage, for a hardback these days."

Literary prizes were influential in shaping critics' selections this year, with Kate Summerscale's Samuel Johnson Prize-winning The Suspicions of Mr Whicher picked four times. There were also several mentions for the Orange prize-shortlisted When We Were Bad by Charlotte Mendelson and The Outcast by Sadie Jones, while last week's Booker longlist garnered mentions for Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith and The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretzer.

Non-fiction was popular with critics: along with French's Naipaul biography, JG Ballard's autobiography Miracles of Life, Ferdinand Mount's memoir Cold Cream and Simon Gray's diaries The Last Cigarette also came highly recommended, all winning four mentions in summer reading round-ups. But fiction did not go unrecognised, with Jhumpa Lahiri's short story collection Unaccustomed Earth and Adam Thorpe's The Standing Pool high on critics' lists, alongside the Orange and Booker picks.

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