Summer is almost officially here. It is the season of relaxing with a book on the beach, at the park, on your porch—you name it. The hardest part of summer reading can be deciding where to begin. We’ve compiled a list of nine awesome debut books by new writers to help you get started.
Emma Cline’s debut novel, released earlier this week, has already received a lot of buzz. Set in 1960s California, it is the story of fourteen-year-old Evie Boyd, who joins a cult. In a New Yorker review, James Wood writes: “Emma Cline, at twenty-seven, has been fast-tracked by the Muses; she has the painterly ability to look again and see (or sense) things better than most of us do.” High praise, indeed.
Publication date: June 14
Though this is her first collection, Amie Barrodale’s stories have already appeared in publications such as The Paris Review, Harper’s, and McSweeney’s. Mary Gaitskill says: “Barrodale’s stories make me think of an updated John Cheever—that is to say she is witty, soulful and sharp all at once.”
Publication date: July 5
Broun’s debut novel takes place on a night in 2052, when one man decides to free all the creatures in the London Zoo. The man’s name is Cuthbert Handley, and he believes he can talk to animals. If that’s not a good teaser, we don’t know what is.
Publication date: July 5
Monterey Bay is set in 1940, and tells the story of fifteen-year-old Margot Fiske. It includes in its cast of characters the great novelist John Steinbeck and, in a wonderful twist, the biologist Ed Ricketts, who served as the basis for Doc in Steinbeck’s Cannery Row. Margot works as Ricketts’s sketch artist, drawing the sea creatures that he studies.
Publication date: July 19
Hannah Gersen’s debut novel Home Field is about a high school football coach in rural Maryland whose world is thrown tragically off course when his wife commits suicide—leaving him to care for their three children and to re-examine the life he has built for himself and his family.
Publication date: July 26
The Grand Tour gives the genre of the road novel a delightfully literary twist. The road trip is, in fact, part of a book tour taken by an old, jaded literary novelist and his biggest fan, a shy and endearing college student. A perfect book to take on your summer travels.
Publication date: August 9
Angela Palm’s Riverine won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. In these linked essays, Palm writes about growing up in rural Indiana, a crush she had on the boy next door, and a harrowing crime that casts her past in a different light.
Publication date: August 16
Imbolo Mbue’s much lauded debut novel comes out this August. It tells the story of Jende and Neni Jonga, a young Cameroonian couple who move to New York with their son just before the Great Recession hits.
Publication date: August 23
In this gargantuan debut novel, the protagonist, Samuel Anderson-Anderson, sets out not only to find, but to write a biography about the now-famous mother who abandoned him when he was a child.
Publication date: August 30
by Sadye Teiser