The Best Books By Debut Writers To Read Now
The Debrief: Read, get inspired, and start your own work of genius. Hey, if they can do it, so can you.
Looking for your new favourite writer? Check out these ladies - all of whom are just about to release their first book.
Not Working - Lisa Owens
Claire quits her job for a few months to do what we all want to - spend her time accomplishing those things we all would if only we didn’t have to work. Getting fit, reading War & Peace and discovering what her calling is. Instead, she falls out with her mum then slumps into despair about what the crack in her wall means why her boyfriend talks to her like that sometimes and what the man from the Co-op thinks of her. Reading this novel feels like your best mate having a hard time and dealing with it by increased whatsapp-ing. You care because you have been there and you read on because she's funny. This is the book you'll be pressing on friends for years to let them know they’re not alone. No book could ask for more.
Out 21st April, Picador
Look at Me - Sarah Duguid
A mother dies, a family grieves, a daughter discovers a secret sister. Many novels have had similar set ups but the charm here is all in the writing. Duguid has an eye for description which leaves you feeling almost as if you’re eavesdropping on an actual family. The characters are bohemian, but normalised by grief. Lizzy, the daughter, is defiant, then devastated. And the secret sibling is a nightmare, but also a unifier. It’s a quiet book, but one that leaves you wondering how the characters are getting alongfor a long time after you’ve finished it.
Out 25th Feb, Tinder Press
Rush Oh! - Shirley Barrett
I’m pretty sure no-one’s new year resolution was to read more about whaling families in the early 1900s. But here’s a novel all about that and it’s better than any of us might have imagined. Mary Davidson is our heroine, and she’s left caring for her siblings after the death of her mother, when she falls in love for the first time and has to grow up fast. The tone is bordering on twee, the humour is very gentle and the romance is definitely romantic rather than hot - but they are all so damn likeable it makes a very comforting read.
Out March 22, Virago
The Portable Veblen - Elizabeth McKenzie
Your affection for this one will entirely depend on at what level your own personal quirk-threshold lies. For many, its story of kooky love will be unbearable. For others, it will provide the very foundations of a meet-cute. It starts with an engagement. Veblen is the deeply anti-consumerist recipient of a huge ring, and it’s given to her by Paul, who adores her. He takes a job in big-pharma to further his career and she goes on a road trip with a squirrel. There’s so much here that is charming, maybe even too much. But this is McKenzie’s UK debut and it’s great to read romance, for women, which isn’t patronisingly sold as yet more chick lit.
Out January 19, 4th Estate
The Butchers Hook - Janet Ellis
Anne Jacob is a young woman in 1700s London. She is sheltered, then taken advantage of, before developing a crush of epic and life changing proportions - with Fub, a butchers apprentice. But her future - ie, her husband - is already mapped out, and she has a fight on her hands to change it. With much in common with The Miniaturist, this is historical fiction told from a modern perspective, focussing less on the fun of flouncy BBC costume drama frocks and more on what it must feel like to have to tussle for even a tiny scrap of independence. It’s fun, grimy and romantic, as well as being a properly rollicking adventure.
Out February 25, Two Roads
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You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating