Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Authors for a New Year

Debut Novels are a great to shake up your reading habits, to get you thinking in different ways, to get you out of your (literary) comfort zone. So why not resolve to read a few new authors this year.

Listed below are a few recent debut novels for your consideration:

by Miguel Syjuco

"...The story begins with the suicide of the great Filipino writer Crispin Salvador, found floating in the Hudson River. His protege and biographer, Miguel, ends up reconstructing Crispin's life as he seeks to uncover the details of his mysterious death and the whereabouts of a last, unfinished novel about the corruption in the Philippines... Through his vivid use of language, Syjuco has crafted a beautiful work of historical fiction that's part mystery and part sociopolitical commentary. Readers who enjoyed Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao will enjoy this literary gem" - Library Journal

"As an unpublished manuscript, Ilustrado won both the Palanca Grand Prize, the Philippines' highest literary award, and the Man Asian Literary Award in 2008. It is a virtuoso display of imagination and wisdom, particularly remarkable from a 31-year-old author; a literary landmark for the Philippines and beyond." - Booklist

Ruby's Spoon
by Anna Lawrence Pietroni

"Ruby's Spoon is a bold and bewitching debut set in the industrial Black Country of the 1930s. Anna Lawrence Pietroni's fiercely charismatic heroine blazes the arrival of a mesmerising new literary talent. This is the tale of three women -- one witch, one mermaid and one missing -- and how Ruby was caught up in between. When Isa Fly appears in the doorway of Captin Len's Fried Fish Shop, fourteen-year-old Ruby is entranced. -Publisher

"This enthralling, suspenseful debut novel, which has the feel of a grim fairy tale, is written in the poetic dialect of the Black Country and is thick with the vocabulary of the fishing and button trades. Of the many riches it offers, it is the winning lead character, a lonely teen brave enough to have a dream despite her impoverished circumstances, who will capture readers’ hearts." - Booklist

Born Under a Million Shadows
by Andrea Busfield

"In her indelible first novel, Busfield, a British journalist who has lived in Afghanistan, describes post-Taliban Kabul from the viewpoint of precocious, 11-year-old Fawad, whose impossible losses are commonplace: My father was killed, my brothers are dead, and my sister is missing. But in Afghanistan, that's a big so what.' When his mother secures a job keeping house for three foreigners, Fawad moves from their impoverished relatives' home into the Westerners' compound. Over the following year, the foreigners begin to feel like family to Fawad, but Busfield never romanticizes the intractable challenges of cross-cultural understanding...

...Poetic, bawdy, hilarious, and achingly wise, Busfield's debut is a love story many times over: between a man and a woman, the author and Afghanistan, and an irrepressible boy and the wild world at large.
" Booklist

Bloodroot: a novel
by Amy Greene

"This stunning debut novel is a triumph of voice and setting. Following one impoverished family from the Depression up through the present, the story is told in six voices and set in a remote region called Bloodroot Mountain, so named for the rare flower that grows there, which can both poison and heal... ...With a style as elegant as southern novelist Lee Smith's and a story as affecting as The Color Purple, this debut offers stirring testimony to the resilience of the human spirit." - Booklist

Barnacle Love
by Anthony De Sa

"...As a young man, Manuel Rebelo leaves his hometown on the Azores Islands (a territory of Portugal), embarking on a fishing boat to flee the confinement of his limited prospects. He jumps ship in Nova Scotia, eventually settling down in Toronto with his wife and family to do what immigrants always intend: to seek a better life. Bringing family history full circle, and in the process cementing the novel's two halves, Manuel impresses his confinement on his son, who, in turn, wants to make his escape, in this instance from the Portuguese neighborhood of Toronto. A beautiful musical piece stating and repeating its profoundly moving melody." - Booklist

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky: a novel
by Heidi W. Durrow

"Durrow's first novel, inspired by a real event, won the 2008 Bellwether Prize for best fiction manuscript addressing issues of social justice. The young protagonist, Rachel, is the only survivor after her mother apparently threw her and her two siblings from a roof and then jumped to her own death. Like a good mystery, this book builds to the startling revelation of what really happened and why a loving mother would kill her children... ...But one can't help but be drawn in by these characters and by the novel's exploration of race and identity.

With similar themes to Zadie Smith's White Teeth and a tone of desolation and dislocation like Graham Swift's
Waterland and Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, this is also recommended for readers intrigued by the psychology behind shocking headlines" - Library Journal

More debut novels

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