16 Books We’re Looking Forward to for The Second Half of 2020

June 3, 2020

There are so many incredible books coming out still this year, but we couldn’t let this list go on forever. We limited ourselves to sixteen of the most exciting debut novels and collections as well as a few from writers we already know so well. With so much pain in the country right now, we hope it helps to have a few books to look forward to.

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Set in modern-day India, this debut novel from Majumdar, an editor at Catapult, has been called unforgettable. Told from multiple points of view, it is the story of Jivan, who witnesses something awful and then, unthinking, posts a comment on Facebook. Her comment leads to her arrest and the two people who could possibly help her, film-star hopeful Lovely and former gym teacher PT Sir, are preoccupied with their own desires.

Publication date: June 2nd

The Lightness by Emily Temple

Emily Temple, senior editor at Lit Hub, is out with her debut novel. Olivia leaves home and her overbearing mother to search for her father, who has gone missing from a meditation retreat. There, she falls in with a trio of girls who are determined to levitate at all costs. Chloe Benjamin says “The Lightness could be the love child of Donna Tartt and Tana French, but its savage, glittering magic is all Emily Temple’s own.” We’re in.

Publication date: June 16th

Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West

When Ruby’s mother is murdered, Ruby not only loses her, but also her best friend, Layla, who is told to keep away. Alternating between the present and the past, this debut novel explores secrets, loss, and the limits of friendship.

Publication date: June 16th


A Good Family by A.H. Kim

Kim’s alternating POV novel revolves around Beth who seems to have it all until she pleads guilty to a white-collar crime and ends up in prison. But, who in her idyllic world betrayed her? Who is keeping secrets? Who is telling lies?

Publication date: July 14th


Other People’s Pets by R.L. Maizes

This is R.L. Maizes follow up to her short story collection We Love Anderson Cooper.

Abandoned by her mother, La La becomes her father’s thieving accomplice. When he’s arrested in her fourth year of veterinary school, La La goes back to breaking into people’s homes in order to pay his lawyer fees. A quirky plot that examines the pull of the past.

     Publication date: July 14th

We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan

Moving between countries and continents (Uganda and London) and time (the 1960s and today), Zayyan explores loss, family, and home in her debut novel, which won the Merky Books New Writers’ Prize in 2019.

Publication date: July 23rd



Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

Franny Stone arrives in Greenland to track the final migration of the world’s last flock of Artic terns. There, her own dark secrets begin to emerge. Emily St. John Mandel says, “Migrations is as beautiful and as wrenching as anything I’ve ever read. This is an extraordinary novel by a wildly talented writer.”

Publication date: August 4th


The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna

In this debut novel by the former director of AWP, Lauren Cress is a grieving young adjunct professor. An intense friendship blooms with her student, Siri, and when Siri invites Lauren home to Sweden, Lauren accepts. There, things get much, much more troubling.

Publication date: August 4th


Why Visit America: Stories by Matthew Baker

The good people of Plainfield, Texas decide to secede from the United States and call themselves after America, for nostalgic reasons. These stories are speculative, satirical, and ultimately searching for the things that connect us.

Publication date: August 4th


Before You Go by Tommy Butler

Chance, like all of humankind, is born with a hole in his heart. At a support group in Manhattan, he finds two other lost souls and together they try to find happiness. Before You Go is a big-hearted (get it?) debut about the meaning of life.

Publication date: August 11th


A House is a Body by Shruti Swamy

Mixing reality with mythology, crossing cultures and continents, two-time O. Henry award winner Swamy’s debut collection of stories precisely reveals small moments of the beauty and pain that make up life.

Publication date: August 11th


The New Wilderness by Diane Cook

In this speculative fiction debut novel, Bea leaves the city to seek a better life for her daughter, Agnes. But, what she finds is a complicated place between a refuge and a science experiment and in trying to save her daughter, she may in fact lose her.

Publication date: August 11th


The Smallest Lights in the Universe by Sara Seager

In this memoir, planetary astrophysicist Seager, who has spent her life peering into space looking for an exoplanet, is suddenly and terribly adrift. She loses her husband to colon cancer and becomes a single mother who, until now, has always managed her Asperger’s. And then, unexpectedly, Seager finds love again.

Publication date: August 18th


The Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

Subversive storytelling meets fabulism in this debut novel about three generations of Taiwanese American women. One mysterious event follows another until secrets are revealed.

Publication date: September 8th


The Ghost Variations by Kevin Brockmeier

The Masters Review Judge is out with his third story collection—this one, one hundred ghost stories. If they are anything like his other stories, they will be witty, poignant gems that illuminate the human condition like never before. We can’t wait.

Publication date: October 6th


The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

Kelly Link says, “Contemporary life in Danielle Evans’s stories has a kind of incandescent and dangerous energy: even in moments of somberness or isolation, her characters crackle with heat, light, and self-awareness.” Evans talks about race with a razor-sharp voice and though-provoking details, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, too.

Publication date: November 10th

by Jennifer Dupree


At The Masters Review, our mission is to support emerging writers. We only accept submissions from writers who can benefit from a larger platform: typically, writers without published novels or story collections or with low circulation. We publish fiction and nonfiction online year-round and put out an annual anthology of the ten best emerging writers in the country, judged by an expert in the field. We publish craft essays, interviews and book reviews and hold workshops that connect emerging and established writers.

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