I have a warm place in my heart for newly published writers – there is something special about fresh blood – so I want to highlight some of the most exciting debut novels of 2016. As with most of my lists, these novels are in no particular order and are listed here only because I enjoyed them.
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The Gallery of Lost Species: A Novel by Nina Berkhout
Berkhout traces the lives of two sisters: Vivienne, a great charmer and a child beauty queen, and Edith, a collector of oddities. As they grow, Vivienne rebels against her mother’s expectations, and Edith ends up working for the National Gallery of Canada where she finds herself tangled in a quest to find a creature that may or may not be extinct. It is a great look at the ways that we make meaning out of our lives.
The Regional Office is Under Attack!: A Novel by Manuel Gonzales
Some of the books on this list are serious literary endeavors. Gonzales’s novel s not one of them. The Regional Office is Under Attack! follows an organization of female assassins and oracles called the Regional Office that saves the world from various evil plots. However one prophecy says that the Regional Office will be brought down not by outsiders but from within. And now the Office is under attack. It is a vaguely ridiculous novel but it is also a fun romp and an exploration of moral doubt.
Good Morning, Midnight: A Novel by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Good Morning, Midnight is a story for the stars. It follows astronomer Augustine who dreams of discovering how the universe began and Sullivan, a mission specialist on a return trip from Jupiter. When disaster strikes the world, both of them realize just how alone they truly are. It is a beautifully written book.
Girl Through Glass: A Novel by Sari Wilson
Wilson’s novel tells two interweaving narratives. The first explores the ballet world of the 1970’s and 1980’s through the eyes of young Mira, an aspiring ballerina. The second revolves around Kate, a dance professor whose affair with a student is in the process of unraveling her life. The book is an lovely portrait of ambition, vulnerability, and what comes after.
The Mortifications: A Novel by Derek Palacio
Palacio’s novel tells an expansive family epic about a rural family from Cuba. The family is split in 1980 when its patriarch remains in Cuban to continue his revolutionary attempts and his wife flees to Connecticut with their children. But no matter how far they go Cuba remains a part of them.
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These books are just a few of my favorite debut novels from the year. Feel free to share some of your beloved new authors below! I’d love to support other breakout authors.