Each month, Debutiful will recommend a handful of buzzworthy and under-the-radar debut books for you to read.
You may have seen some of these books on my semi-annual list of most anticipated debuts over at Electric Literature. Please support them because they have supported me long before Debutiful was ever dreamt of.
The books below feature some of the site’s favorite types of stories: they’re queer, they’re rural, they’re dangerous, they’re funny, they’re heartbreaking. From a supernatural-tinged crime story to an emotional memoir, to rural stories that teeter on hilarious, these are the books you should pick up this month.
The Bright Lands by John Fram (Hanover Square; 7/7)
A queer, supernatural crime story set in rural Texas. When a gay man who left his hometown returns, he sees that everything has remained the same. Except now his little brother is in trouble and he works with his only girlfriend he ever had who just happens to be a detective. The modern noir has familiar beats to fans of the crime genre, but Fram hits them differently than readers might expect.
The Heart and Other Monsters by Rose Andersen (Bloomsbury; 7/7)
An unforgettable memoir about our country’s opioid crisis. After Andersen’s younger sister Sarah died of an overdose in 2013, she began to revisit her childhood and track her and her sister’s lives. As she narrows her scope to her family, it becomes clearer that her lens must turn toward the larger crisis our country is facing.
Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford (Grove; 7/14)
This is a coming of age story about a young woman from the Cherokee Nation who eventually moves to Texas as her family hopes to strike it rich in the early 1980s oil boom. Ford grapples with Cherokee women who face losing the only thing they ever loved as they search for an identity after they were forced to leave the only one they knew behind. Ford’s exploration into identity is a must read for anyone and everyone.
Inheritors by Asako Serizawa (Doubleday; 7/14)
Told through layers of different perspective, this generational family saga begins more than 150 years ago and weaves through the lives of a Japanese family who eventually makes their way to America. Serizawa’s tapestry of storylines and people weaves together to form a larger picture and answer questions every family has to ask eventually about who they are and why they’re here.
F*ckface by Leah Hampton (Henry Holt; 7/14)
The title story of this book is the perfect note to start the collection on. It’s rural, weird, and teeters on the tightrope between funny and dark. Hampton’s stories are set in Appalachia, where she lives, and you can tell how rooted her characters are. They feel lived in and memorable on every page. She explores the weird and let’s readers into a world outsiders rarely get to see.
A Star is Bored by Byron Lane (7/28; Henry Holt)
Inspired by the author’s time as a personal assistant to the late Carrie Fisher, this hilarious book isn’t afraid to take readers to uncomfortable places. Lane’s first novel is the perfect book to read in the waning days of summer.