Summer reading tips from the EU’s competition chiefs

By Thibault Larger

“It’s summer, the holidays, thank God, what happiness! We’ve got the sky, the sun and the sea,” as the French chanson goes.

All well and good, but what are holidays without a good book? POLITICO has asked the heads of the EU’s competition authorities what they will be reading at the beach and by the pool. It’s a real farrago. Their suggestions range from spy novels to comic books in Serbian.

Marie Östman, Sweden
After taking on abusers of dominance in her day job, Sweden’s antitrust chief traditionally turns to a good old Swedish murder mystery to relax. Tove Alsterdal’s “Let Me Take Your Hand” and “Do Not Turn Around” are perfect for “lazy vacation days,” she said, probably in the Stockholm archipelago where she spends most of her summer vacation with the family. Beside watersports and swimming in the Baltic Sea, she also planned to finish Elena Ferrante’s four-volume Neapolitan novels, telling the story of two women’s lives which she finds “absolutely brilliant.”

Isolde Goggin, Ireland
Goggin recommended Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita.”

Like Östman, she likes a bit of adventure too and recommends “Joe Country” by Mick Herron. This is “the latest in a great series of spy novels,” Goggin said, “in which the Slow Horses, a motley crew of MI5’s losers and rejects, battle not only domestic and international terrorist conspiracies, but also the internal politics and machinations of their own organization.” Surely nothing like a national competition authority!

She also plumped for “Japanese Ghost Stories” by the Irish-Greek Lafcadio Hearn. Goggin explained: “You have to love a writer who produced not only collections of Japanese legends and ghost stories, but also the New Orleans cookbook. Also, he used to live around the corner from me.”

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