Each month, we will pick a handful of buzzworthy and under the radar debut books we feel you’ll enjoy.
99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochai (Viking; 1/8)
When Marwarnd returns to his native province of Logar in war-torn Afghanistan during 2005, he gets bit by a family dog. He vows a jihad against the animal with his young relatives, which results in a 99-night adventure. As the boy comes of age during the events, the story unfolds through earnest moments and fantastical elements from Marwand’s perspective.
Sugar Run by Mesha Maren (Algonquin; 1/8)
A southern noir that finds a woman released from jail after nearly two decades as she snakes her way through the backcountry forging new bonds. The slow-burning story reveals details of a murder and hope for the future.
To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari (Catapult; 1/5)
During the Iranian Revolution, a large family expresses the intimacy of a very political event. While history has focused on the major arcs of the event, this is a very narrow scope about how Iran was affected by the revolution. The characters range from the patriarch to young children to servants of the family.
You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian (Gallery/Scout; 1/15)
The viral “Cat Person” short story launched Roupenian into stardom. Her story about modern dating was heralded as the first major story to encapsulate what it is like to be a millennial. Her collection hits a lot of the same beats as her story, but with a harsher edge to the characters.
Restoration Heights by Wil Medearis (Hanover Square Press; 1/22)
A very straight-forward and thrilling amateur sleuth story about a young artist in a gentrifying neighborhood. Medearis uses his love for the city to explore the artistry of Brooklyn and the elite, fast-paced world of Manhattan socialites.
The Falconer by Dana Czapnik (Atria; 1/29)
In 1993 Manhatten, a smart, skilled basketball player comes of age while balancing school, sports, friends, family, and love. Lucy finds herself torn at what her future can hold as she explores the city in a way that is being described as the “feminist rebuttal to Catcher in the Rye.”