One of my favorite things about the life of a book-lover is
discovering new writers — and not just writers who are new to me (although, that’s always a welcome surprise) but writers who are new to everybody: new to readers, new to publishing, new to bookstore shelves. There’s just something about brand new literary debuts that I love: getting to know a writer at the start of their career, enjoying the fresh voice of a brand new talent, getting to be one of the first people to tell my fellow book loving friends about the new author they just have to check out. The debut novels on this list, hot off the presses and ready for your 2018 TBR pile, are the kind of books I’ll definitely be sharing with all by best reading buds this year — but lucky for you, I’m sharing them here with you first. (You’re welcome.)
Appearing between January and July — so, enough reading to get you through the first half of 2018 — these are some of the books everyone will be buzzing about this year. Be sure to polish off that 2017 TBR pile and clear some shelf space, because here are 19
debut novels you definitely won’t want to miss in 2018.
'The Woman in the Window' by A. J. Finn (Jan. 2)
Already called “one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts”
The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn echoes with everything you love about writers like Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn. It tells the story of Anna Fox, an agoraphobic recluse and kind-of drunk woman whose days of spying on her neighbors are interrupted when she thinks she witnesses a crime committed in the house next door. Click here to buy.
'Neon in Daylight' by Hermione Hoby (Jan. 9)
Credited with “"channel[ing] the spirit of Joan Didion” (so, we’re already obsessed)
Neon in Daylight by Hermione Hoby will transport you to New York City in the weeks before Hurricane Sandy rocks the east coast, where three unmoored and malcontent people collide in the heady heat of summer — Kate, a young Englishwoman, and Bill and Inez, the father/daughter duo she becomes infatuated with. Click here to buy.
'The Afterlives' by Thomas Pierce (Jan. 9)
Humans have always been fascinated with what happens after we die — and in this funny and whimsical debut,
The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce, a man named Jim Byrd has actually experienced it. Except, he’s not so sure there really is anything waiting on the other side. At least, he wasn’t so sure until the ghost showed up. Click here to buy.
'Everything Here Is Beautiful' by Mira T. Lee (Jan. 16)
Like many sisters, Miranda and Lucia have always been different — but when their mother dies and Lucia starts hearing voices, the differences between them become even more evident. Lucia lives a frenetic, haphazard, impulsive life, while Miranda forges ahead in responsible predictability, interrupted only when Lucia seems to need saving. Told from the sisters’ alternating perspectives,
Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee is a big-hearted debut filled with sibling love. Click here to buy.
'Brass' by Xhenet Aliu (Jan. 23)
Brass by Xhenet Aliu, Luljeta is the child of working class immigrant parents — a Lithuanian mother and a mysterious Albanian father who she never knew — who has just been rejected from NYU and suspended from high school in the same day. Filled with restlessness and disappointment, she sets out to discover the truth about her father, wondering if the key to her identity and her future might be found in this hidden part of her history. Click here to buy.
'Down and Across' by Arvin Ahmadi (Feb. 6)
With echoes of John Green,
Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi introduces readers to Scott Ferdowsi, a commitment-phobic teen who has no idea what he wants for breakfast, much less what he wants to do with his life. In hopes of finding out, he sneaks away to Washington D.C., where he meets Fiora Buchanan, a college student whose one dream in life is to write crossword puzzles for a living — and who will set Scott on the adventure of his young life. Click here to buy.
'The House of Impossible Beauties' by Joseph Cassara (Feb. 6)
Inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza — an icon of the New York City ballroom dancing scene of the 1980s and '90s — Joseph Cassara’s
The House of Impossible Beauties follows Angel, a young drag queen trying to make peace with her past and find herself in the big city, and Hector, the man she falls in love with. But the scene isn’t all parties and glamour, as Angel, Hector, and the House of Xtravaganza team grapple with drugs, sex work, HIV, violence, and more. Click here to buy.
'Sadness Is a White Bird' by Moriel Rothman-Zecher (Feb. 13)
A novel that takes readers into the complex heart of the Israel/Palestine conflict,
Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher begins with a young, incarcerated Israeli named Jonathan who is evaluating the events of his young life from behind the walls of a military prison — specifically, how he got there: events inspired by Jonathan’s conflicting feelings about monitoring occupied Palestine as a solider, all while maintaining a deep friendship with two Palestinian siblings. Click here to buy.
'Freshwater' by Akwaeke Emezi (Feb. 13)
A novel that navigates mental health and the complexities of identity,
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi tells the story of a young Nigerian woman named Ada who experiences the world from the perspectives of multiple selves that reside inside her body and mind. As Ada comes of age and moves away from home, those selves solidify into two separate identities: Asughara and Saint Vincent, but with the effect of Ada beginning to lose herself as just Ada, entirely. Click here to buy.
'Some Hell' by Patrick Nathan (Feb. 20)
For lovers of novels about young characters wise beyond their years (think
About A Boy, Wonder) Some Hell by Patrick Nathan tells the coming-of-age story of Colin, a gay teen who is struggling to navigate both middle school and his guilt about his father’s suicide, while taking on the emotional burdens of the rest of his family. That is, until a road trip to Los Angeles gives them all the opportunity to consider what starting over might look like. Click here to buy.
'Girls Burn Brighter' by Shobha Rao (March 6)
A definite must-read for readers who love authors like Nadia Hashimi and Khaled Hosseini,
Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao traverses India and the United States, and tells the story of Poornima and Savitha — two poor but driven girls whose bond is broken when an act of cruelty drives Savitha to run away from their Indian village and Poornima sets out across first India, and then the world, to find her. Click here to buy.
'Only Child' by Rhiannon Navin (Mar. 8)
Another novel with a child-narrator you can’t help but love,
Only Child by Rhiannon Navin takes readers into one of every modern parent’s biggest fears — a school shooting. After surviving by hiding in a coat closet with his first grade teacher and classmates, 6-year-old Zach Taylor retreats into a world of books, art, and imagination in order to cope with what he witnessed, while his mother embarks upon a relentless pursuit of justice for the 19 young victims and their families. Click here to buy.
'Nothing Left to Burn' by Heather Ezell (March 13)
A novel that will take you into the landscape that has been making headlines throughout the fall and winter — that of California’s wildfire-wracked coast —
Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell begins when 16-year-old Audrey Harper is evacuated from her home by firemen, the morning after she loses her virginity. Unfolding over the course of just 24 hours, Audrey is faced with the conflicting feelings she has about the carefree summer she spent falling in love with a volunteer firefighter, the immediate danger of the fires and the devastating possibility of losing her home. Click here to buy.
'The Astonishing Color Of After' by Emily X.R. Pan (March 20)
Leigh is convinced that when her mother died, she turned into a large red bird. In order to discover the truth about her mother's life — and death — she decides to travel to Taiwan to meet her mother's parents. There, she discovers some secrets about her mom's life, and comes to terms with her own grief over her death.
Click here to buy.
'In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills' by Jennifer Haupt (April 2)
Inspired by the author’s own time traveling through Rwanda after the genocide of 1994,
In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt takes readers from Atlanta to New York City to the dark and mysterious hills of Rwanda as three women of different ages, backgrounds, and experiences come together in the most unlikely of places — all looking for something different, only to discover something they didn’t even know they were each looking for: grace. Click here to buy.
'Every Other Weekend' by Zulema Renee Summerfield (April 17)
Most children who have lived through divorce are familiar with the phrase “every other weekend”, as is Nenny, a spirited eight year old who is recalibrating her life after her parents’ divorce.
Every Other Weekend by Zulema Renee Summerfield takes you deep into Nenny’s mind, one increasingly plagued by anxieties and fears both real and imagined, and into her heart, which is much stronger and wiser than even Nenny herself realizes. Click here to buy.
'The Pisces' by Melissa Broder (May 1)
From the hilariously relatable genius behind
So Sad Today, The Pisces by Melissa Broder is a funny, surprising, and strange love story about a PhD candidate named Lucy and the merman she discovers while house-sitting for her sister in Venice Beach, California. Click here to buy.
'Welcome to Lagos' by Chibundu Onuzo (May 8)
On the road to Lagos, a bustling city on the southwest coast of Nigeria, five strangers meet. They’re all running from something different, and aren’t sure what they’re running towards — other than freedom from their old lives. In
Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo, these five strangers, plus a newspaper editor and a government minister, become trapped in a political scandal that will force them to make life-changing decisions once more. Click here to buy.
'What We Were Promised' by Lucy Tan (July 10)
Set in modern day Shanghai and navigating the complexities of identity in a globalized world — and in particular, what it means to be a woman in China today —
What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan will introduce you to several generations of the Zhen family, returned to China after living in the United States, and challenged with negotiating the terrain between their Chinese heritage, their Western educations, their increasingly strained relationships with one another, and the secrets from their past that are about to rise to the surface. Click here to buy.