Fabulous Debut Novels
Recently the Pulitzer Board announced there would be no Pulitzer Prize for Fiction awarded this year, as the nominated titles were not good enough. Although the Pulitzer Prize originally began in 1917 with many categories relating to American newspaper journalism, arts, and letters, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction as we know it now, changed in 1948 from an award just for a novel, to include short stories, novels, novellas and fictional poetry, by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. It can also be awarded posthumously. It has been 35 years since there last was no Pulitzer Prize awarded for fiction. This announcement is discouraging for writers, publishers and readers everywhere, as prizes and awards give the highest recommendation to any works.
In lieu of this we have decided to highlight six recently received debut novels. The authors are from America, Australia, Britain and Ireland, of varying ages, but all are brilliantly crafted, highly polished novels and exhibit the great potential of these writers. At least this small selection of new fiction will show that there are writers beginning their careers who will provide wonderful fiction in the future!
City of Bohane : a novel / Kevin Barry.
Kevin Barry is an Irish writer from Limerick and began his writing career as a journalist for a local paper. He went on to become a freelance writer, having columns published in many major newspapers, including The Guardian and The Irish Times. His first collection of short stories won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2007. Another collection of short stories titled Dark lies the Island has recently been published. The City of Bohane, his first novel was published in 2011. Set 40 years in the future, the once great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is in terminal decline, with vice and tribal splits rife. Logan Hartnett, godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang has been in charge but his nemesis has arrived back in town, his henchmen are becoming ambitious, his wife wants him to give it all up and go straight and, he has his mother to contend with. This novel was shortlisted for the 2012 Costa Awards, and is an amazing reading experience.
The darlings : [a novel] / Cristina Alger.
Critina Alger is a Harvard and New York University School of Law graduate. She has worked as an analyst for Goldman, Sachs, & Co and also as an attorney. She lives in New York City where she was raised. Utterly compelling, her debut novel covers a single week in the fortunes, or, rather, misfortunes, of the Darlings, a pedigreed Manhattan family:
“Their lavish lifestyle depends on the positive performance of Delphic, their financial investment firm. All goes awry when Morty Reis, a family friend and Delphic’s most successful fund manager, tosses himself off the Tappan Zee Bridge. Unfortunately for son-in-law Paul Ross, this terrible event happens around the time of his signing on as the firm’s legal counsel and the receipt of pointed phone calls from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He begins to suspect that Morty had engaged in fraudulent schemes that will bring down the family” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The ruins of us : a novel / by Keija Parssinen.
Keija Parssinen was born in Saudi Arabia and lived there for twelve years as third generation expatriate, She now lives in Missouri. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English and received her MFA from Iowa Writer’s workshop. The Ruins of Us received a Michener-Copernicus Award and is a gripping, well-crafted debut about the awakening of a Saudi Arabian family to the dangers that lurk within:
“Twenty-five years into her marriage to wealthy Abdullah al-Baylani, the American Rosalie is shattered to find that her husband has taken another wife, and worries about the effect this will have on their teenage children, Faisal and Mariam, worries that will soon prove prescient.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The light between oceans / M.L. Stedman.
Margot Stedman was born and raised in Perth, Australia, but now lives in London. While working as a Lawyer in London in 1997 she decided to try creative writing. After having her first short story published she went on to study creative writing part time at the University of London. She then had three novellas included in an anthology in 2008. Her debut novel, The Light between Oceans is an extraordinary and heart-rending book about good people and the tragic decisions made that change the course of their lives:
“Tom Sherbourne, released from the horrors of the First World War, is now a lighthouse keeper, cocooned on a remote island with his young wife Izzy, who is content in everything but her failure to have a child. One April morning, a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man, and a crying baby. Safe from the real world, Tom and Izzy break the rules and follow their hearts. It is a decision with devastating consequences.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
The cartographer / Peter Twohig. Peter Twohig was born in Melbourne in 1948, he now lives in Sydney. He has played in a rock band, worked in various Government Departments, trained in Naturopathy and Homoeopathy; he also has a BA in Professional Writing and a BA in Philosophy. The Cartographer is set in 1950s Melbourne and follows an imaginative 11-year-old boy, a year after the death of his twin brother, as he accidentally witnesses a murder and starts working out the cartography of the city to avoid running into the murderer again. This is a captivating and outrageously funny novel about a boy who refuses to give in and the numerous shifty, dodgy and downright malicious people he has to contend with on his grand adventure of loss and discovery.
The Bellwether revivals / Benjamin Wood.
Benjamin Wood was born in 1981in Northwest England and is now Lecturer in Creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London. In 2004 he was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship to attend the MFA Creative writing course at the University of British Columbia, Canada. His short fiction appeared in several journals, and The Bellwether Revivals, his first novel was shortlisted for the inaugural Dylan Thomas Prizes’ Sony Reader award for the best unpublished novel. It is a stunningly good novel — thrilling and disquieting with long remembered characters:
“It tells the story of bright, bookish Oscar Lowe who has escaped the urban estate where he was raised and made a new life for himself amid the colleges and spires of Cambridge. He has grown to love the quiet routine of his life as a care assistant at a local nursing home, where he has forged a close friendship with the home’s most ill-tempered resident, Dr. Paulsen. But when he meets and falls in love with Iris Bellwether, a beautiful and enigmatic medical student at King’s College, Oscar is drawn into her world of scholarship and privilege, and soon becomes embroiled in the strange machinations of her brilliant but troubled brother, Eden, who believes he can adapt the theories of a forgotten Baroque composer to heal people with music.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk).