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The Best Debut Novels of 2020 From Refreshing New Authors

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There was no shortage of incredible book releases this year. Some of the titles that stood out the most were the bold and captivating debut novels from refreshing new authors. Check out our collection of best debut novels of 2020!

The Girl with the Louding Voice

The Girl with the Louding Voice

Books

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A READ WITH JENNA TODAY SHOW BOOK CLUB PICK!  “Brave, fresh . . . unforgettable.”—The New York Times Book Review “A celebration of girls who dare to dream.”—Imbolo Mbue, author of Behold the Dreamers (Oprah’s Book Club pick)   Shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and recommended by The New York Times, Marie Claire, Vogue, Essence, PopSugar, Daily Mail, Electric Literature, Red, Stylist, Daily Kos, Library Journal, The Everygirl, and Read It Forward! The unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice” and speak up for herself, The Girl with the Louding Voice is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams.  Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her path, Adunni never loses sight of her goal of escaping the life of poverty she was born into so that she can build the future she chooses for herself – and help other girls like her do the same.  Her spirited determination to find joy and hope in even the most difficult circumstances imaginable will “break your heart and then put it back together again” (Jenna Bush Hager on The Today Show) even as Adunni shows us how one courageous young girl can inspire us all to reach for our dreams…and maybe even change the world.

Real Life

Real Life

Books

A FINALIST for the Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the VCU/Cabell First Novelist Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the NYPL Young Lions Award, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award   “A blistering coming of age story” —O: The Oprah Magazine Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York Public Library, Vanity Fair, Elle, NPR, The Guardian, The Paris Review, Harper's Bazaar, Financial Times, Huffington Post, BBC, Shondaland, Barnes & Noble, Vulture, Thrillist, Vice, Self, Electric Literature, and Shelf AwarenessA novel of startling intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town, from an electric new voice. Almost everything about Wallace is at odds with the Midwestern university town where he is working uneasily toward a biochem degree. An introverted young man from Alabama, black and queer, he has left behind his family without escaping the long shadows of his childhood. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends—some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But over the course of a late-summer weekend, a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with an ostensibly straight, white classmate, conspire to fracture his defenses while exposing long-hidden currents of hostility and desire within their community.     Real Life is a novel of profound and lacerating power, a story that asks if it’s ever really possible to overcome our private wounds, and at what cost.

Antkind

Antkind

Books

The bold and boundlessly original debut novel from the Oscar®-winning screenwriter of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Synecdoche, New York. "A dyspeptic satire that owes much to Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon . . . propelled by Kaufman's deep imagination, considerable writing ability and bull's-eye wit."--The Washington Post "An astonishing creation . . . riotously funny . . . an exceptionally good [book]."--The New York Times Book Review "Kaufman is a master of language . . . a sight to behold."--NPR B. Rosenberger Rosenberg, neurotic and underappreciated film critic (failed academic, filmmaker, paramour, shoe salesman who sleeps in a sock drawer), stumbles upon a hitherto unseen film made by an enigmatic outsider--a film he's convinced will change his career trajectory and rock the world of cinema to its core. His hands on what is possibly the greatest movie ever made--a three-month-long stop-motion masterpiece that took its reclusive auteur ninety years to complete--B. knows that it is his mission to show it to the rest of humanity. The only problem: The film is destroyed, leaving him the sole witness to its inadvertently ephemeral genius. All that's left of this work of art is a single frame from which B. must somehow attempt to recall the film that just might be the last great hope of civilization. Thus begins a mind-boggling journey through the hilarious nightmarescape of a psyche as lushly Kafkaesque as it is atrophied by the relentless spew of Twitter. Desperate to impose order on an increasingly nonsensical existence, trapped in a self-imposed prison of aspirational victimhood and degeneratively inclusive language, B. scrambles to re-create the lost masterwork while attempting to keep pace with an ever-fracturing culture of "likes" and arbitrary denunciations that are simultaneously his bête noire and his raison d'être. A searing indictment of the modern world, Antkind is a richly layered meditation on art, time, memory, identity, comedy, and the very nature of existence itself--the grain of truth at the heart of every joke.

My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa

Books

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER "Russell manages a brutal originality. . . . [an] exceedingly complex, inventive, resourceful examination of harm and power." --The New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice"To call this book a 'conversation piece' or 'an important book' feels belittling . . . [it] is so much more than that. It's a lightning rod. A brilliantly crafted novel."--The Washington PostA most anticipated book by The New York Times - USA Today - Entertainment Weekly - Marie Claire - Elle - Harper's Bazaar - Bustle - Newsweek - New York Post - Esquire - Real Simple - The Sunday Times - The Guardian Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher. 2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager--and who professed to worship only her--may be far different from what she has always believed?Alternating between Vanessa's present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.--Esquire, The Best Books Coming Out This Winter

A Burning

A Burning

Books

" For readers of Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, and Jhumpa Lahiri, an electrifying debut novel about three unforgettable characters who seek to rise--to the middle class, to politcal power, to fame in the movies--and find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary India. Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, determined to move up in life, who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right-wing political party, and finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan's fall. Lovely--an irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice and dreams of glory fill the novel with warmth and hope and humour--has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything she holds dear. Taut, symphonic, propulsive, and riveting from its opening lines, A Burning has the force of an epic while being so masterfully compressed it can be read in a single sitting. Majumdar writes with dazzling assurance at a breakneck pace on complex themes that read here as the components of a thriller: class, fate, corruption, justice, and what it feels like to face profound obstacles and yet nurture big dreams in a country spinning toward extremism. An extraordinary debut. A novel about fate, power, opportunity, and class; about innocence and guilt, betrayal and love, and the corrosive media cycle that manufactures falsehoods masquerading as truths--A Burning is a debut novel of exceptional power and urgency, haunting and beautiful, brutal, vibrant, impossible to forget."--

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