Debut Novels To Look For: Early 2016 Edition

For me, there’s something very hopeful about debut novels. New opportunities to read fresh ideas written in new, (hopefully) original voices make me a very happy reader. Here’s what I’m looking forward to in the first few months of 2016.

2016 Debuts

10. The Children’s Home // Charles Lambert. “For fans of Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and Edward Gorey, a beguiling and disarming debut novel from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor—and the startling revelations their behavior evokes.”

09. The Longest Night // Andria Williams. “Reminiscent of Revolutionary Road, if such a novel were set in the American West, this engrossing and suspenseful debut features a young couple fighting to save both their marriage, and the town they live in.”

08. Only Love Can Break Your Heart // Ed Tarkington. “Love can make people do terrible things.” It’s 1977, and eight-year-old Rocky worships his older brother, Paul, who is happy to have his younger brother as his sidekick, until one day, Paul disappears. When, seven years later, a mysterious double murder brings terror and suspicion to Rocky’s small town, Rocky and his family must reckon with the past and find out how much forgiveness their hearts can hold.

07. Nelly Dean: A Return to Wuthering Heights // Alison Case. “A gripping and heartbreaking novel that re-imagines life at Wuthering Heights through the eyes of the Earnshaws’ loyal servant, Nelly Dean.”

06. Dog Run Moon: Stories // Callan Wink. “In the tradition of Richard Ford, Larry McMurtry, Philipp Meyer, and Kent Haruf comes a dazzling debut story collection by a young writer and fly fishing guide from the American West who has been published in The New YorkerGranta, and The Best American Short Stories.”

05. Sweetgirl // Travis Mulhauser. “With the heart, daring, and evocative atmosphere of Winter’s Bone and True Grit, and driven by the raw, whip-smart voice of Percy James, a blistering debut about a fearless sixteen-year old girl whose search for her missing mother leads to an unexpected discovery, and a life or death struggle in the harsh frozen landscape of the Upper Midwest.”

04. Improbable Fortunes // Jeffrey Price. “In Improbable Fortunes, Jeffrey Price takes us on a wild ride into Vanadium, a dusty, down-on-its-heels mining town in southwest Colorado—where it would be fair to assume that nothing has ever happened. But you’d be wrong. As it turns out, quite a lot has happened starting with a suspicious mudslide that destroys the town’s Main Street and a cowboy, Buster McCaffrey, arrested for the death of one of the richest men in America, Marvin Mallomar.

As the soon-to-retire Sheriff, Shep Dudival, investigates the circumstances surrounding the murder, it comes to light that Buster and Mallomar’s young wife were having a Cowboy Always Rings Twice affair. From there, Price takes this familiar story plot and turns it on its head—folding a rococo cast of Vanadium’s characters into a timeline that begins with Vanadium’s post WWII labor strife and ends with the Kulturkampf of present day.

While it may all seem humorous and surreal at first blush, one gets the feeling by Improbable Fortunes’ un-guessable conclusion, that Price has used the fictitious town of Vanadium—a place without a recognizable gas station, a decent restaurant, or a clean bathroom—as the Rosetta Stone for something larger.”

A Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves. In this astonishingly accomplished, morally complicated, “exceptional and starkly beautiful debut” (Kevin Powers, National Book Award–nominated author of The Yellow Birds), a prideful electrician in 1920s rural Alabama struggles to overcome past sins and find peace after being sent to prison for manslaughter.

(Also, I am IN LOVE with this cover (plus it’s a Colorado novel!))

03. The Never Open Desert Diner // James Anderson. “A haunting, funny, and masterfully written debut crime novel, about a remote region of the Utah desert where people go to escape their past, and a truck driver who finds himself at risk when he falls in love with a mysterious woman.

Ben Jones lives a life of quiet and relative solitude, working as a trucker in one of the most beautiful and desolate areas of the Utah desert, which has become a haven for fugitives and others looking to hide from the world. But when he meets Claire, a mysterious woman he finds playing a cello in an abandoned housing development, he is drawn into a love affair that has serious and life-threatening consequences not only for them both, but for others who have made this desert their sanctuary. Ultimately their passion reignites a decades-old tragedy at a roadside café referred to by the locals as The Never-Open Desert Diner. In this unforgettable story of love and loss, Ben must learn the enduring truth that some violent crimes renew themselves across generations. The Never-Open Desert Diner is a unique blend of literary mystery and noir fiction that powerfully evokes an unforgettable setting and introduces readers to a cast of characters who will linger long after the last page.”

02. The Mad Woman Upstairs // Catherine Lowell. “In Catherine Lowell’s smart and original debut novel, the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the family’s long-rumored secret estate, using only the clues her eccentric father left behind, and the Brontës’ own novels.”

01. Rush Oh! // Shirley Barrett. “An impassioned, charming, and hilarious debut novel about a young woman’s coming-of-age, during one of the harshest whaling seasons in history.”

For more debut novels bloggers are looking forward to, go here. Are you looking forward to any 2016 releases?

22 thoughts on “Debut Novels To Look For: Early 2016 Edition

  1. Thanks, it’s very good of you to publish this now so that I can PRE-ORDER now and therefore stay within my self-imposed 2016-book-buying-ban.
    Also, Rush-Oh looks fab.


  2. Sweet Girl is new to me and looks amazing! I’ll definitely add that one to my wish list. This is such a great list that really is shattering my “read your own books” challenge for next year. 😛


  3. Wow, all of these are new to me! I’m going to have to add a bunch of them to my Goodreads TBR list. Thanks for the heads-up. 2016 is certainly shaping up to be a great year for debut novels!


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