Our best new debut novels
This selection of debut novels showcases some very talented new writers, and provides a large range of different storylines. Highly recommended are A Good American by English writer Alex George and The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard.
Hello Kitty must die / Angela S. Choi.
“On the outside, twenty-eight-year-old Fiona Yu appears to be just another Hello Kitty, an educated, well-mannered Asian American woman. Secretly, she feels torn between the traditional Chinese values of her family and the social mores of being an American girl. To escape the burden of carrying her family’s honour, Fiona decides to take her own virginity. In the process, she makes a surprising discovery that reunites her with a long-lost friend, Sean Killroy. Sean introduces her to a dark world of excitement, danger, cunning, and cruelty, pushing her to the limits of her own morality. But Fiona’s father throws her new life into disarray when he dupes her into an overnight trip that results in a hasty engagement to Don Koo, the spoiled son of a wealthy chef.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
A tiger in Eden / Chris Flynn.
“Beautiful beaches, sexy young backpackers, cheap drinks: southern Thailand in the mid-1990s is the perfect place for a holiday. It’s also the perfect place for Billy, Loyalist hard man, with a NO SURRENDER chest tattoo, on the run from the Belfast police, to lie low. He’s turning away from a life of crime, but isn’t sure where to go. A series of fights and one-night stands helps put his troubles out of mind for a while. But when Billy ends up in a Buddhist retreat he learns that no matter how far you travel, your past will always catch up with you.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The coward’s tale / Vanessa Gebbie.
“The boy Laddy Merridew, sent to live with his grandmother, stumbles off the bus into a small Welsh mining community, where he begins an unlikely friendship with Ianto Passchendaele Jenkins, the town beggar-storyteller. Ianto is watchman over the legacy of the collapse many years ago of Kindly Light Pit, a disaster whose echoes reverberate down the generations of the town. Through Ianto’s stories Laddy is drawn into both the town’s history and the conundrums of the present.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
A good American / Alex George.
“It is 1904. When Frederick and Jette must flee her disapproving mother, where better to go than America, the land of the new? Originally set to board a boat to New York, at the last minute, they take one destined for New Orleans instead and later find themselves, more by chance than by design, in the small town of Beatrice, Missouri. Not speaking a word of English, they embark on their new life together. Beatrice is populated with unforgettable characters: a jazz trumpeter from the Big Easy who cooks a mean gumbo, a teenage boy trapped in the body of a giant, a pretty schoolteacher who helps the young men in town learn about a lot more than just music, a minister who believes he has witnessed the Second Coming of Christ, and a malevolent, bicycle-riding dwarf. This debut novel is a sentimental, lively, and sad family saga spanning four generations.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
Memoirs of an imaginary friend / Matthew Green.
“Budo is Max’s imaginary friend, but though only Max can see him, he is real. Budo and the other imaginary friends watch over their children until the day comes that the child stops imagining them. And then they’re gone. Budo has lasted a lot longer than most imaginary friends, four years, because Max needs him more. His parents argue about sending him to a special school. When Max mysteriously disappears from the school Budo knows he must find him and rescue him.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The cleansing of Mahommed / Chris McCourt.
“1914 at the edge of the Australian outback, Gool Mahommed, a camel driver, lives with his mentor Abdullah and dreams of owning a prosperous submarine shipping line. Alice Mercer, born and bred in Broken Hill, yearns for a new life somewhere more exotic. When she and Mahommed first cross paths they are drawn to one another. But the prejudice of others soon causes tension between them, not to mention the outbreak of World War I. When a series of cruel acts against Mahommed and Abdullah drives them to despair, what follows is unthinkable.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The innocents / Francesca Segal.
“Nice, reliable Adam is engaged to Rachel, the perfect Jewish girl, in a closely knit North West London Jewish community. But Rachel’s free-spirited cousin Ellie, back from a scandalous time in the U.S., makes him feel not so nice and not so reliable. He falls for Ellie, but the machinations of both his fiancée and his community create obstacles to his desires.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Can we still be friends / Alexandra Shulman.
“It’s the summer of 1983 and best friends, Salome, Annie and Kendra have left university to embark on adulthood, three very different girls following very different paths. Sal, the aspiring journalist whose personal demons threaten to destroy everything she has achieved. Annie, the capable domestic beauty, convinced that marriage will give her everything she wants. Kendra, the daughter of chic, liberal parents who, searching for her own identity, encounters a life she never expected. As they navigate the decade of ra-ra skirts and shoulder pads, Duran Duran and Margaret Thatcher, they discover that the future is what happens to you, not what you plan.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
Glaciers : a novel / Alexis M. Smith.
“Isabel is a single, twenty something thrift-store shopper and collector of remnants, things cast off or left behind by others. “Glaciers” follows Isabel through a day in her life in which work with damaged books in the basement of a library, unrequited love for the former soldier who fixes her computer, and dreams of the perfect vintage dress move over a backdrop of deteriorating urban architecture and the imminent loss of the glaciers she knew as a young girl in Alaska.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
The pink hotel / Anna Stothard.
“A seventeen-year-old London girl flies to Los Angeles for the funeral of her mother Lily, from whom she had been separated in her childhood. After stealing a suitcase of letters, clothes and photographs from her mum’s bedroom at the top of a hotel on Venice Beach, the girl spends her summer travelling around Los Angeles returning love letters and photographs to the men who had known her mother. As she discovers more about Mandy’s past and tries to re-enact her life, she comes to question the foundations of her own personality.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)