The Best Debut Books of 2021

Looking to discover a debut author? Here are the best debuts from the year that Debutiful read and covered.

The 2021 Debutiful Dozen
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

A melodramatic masterpiece about cis and transgender people in a love triangle. Torrey Peters wrote an enlightening book about trans people and trans love filled with beautiful and powerful prose.

Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz

Hands down the best short story collection of the year. Dantiel W. Moniz has a master’s grasp on plot, character, tone, mood, and pace. Her stories are so complete that you’ll want to study them forever.

Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder

The pitch: “a mother turns into a dog at night… maybe” is just the tip of the iceberg for this book. Rachel Yoder’s ability to play with language and toy with readers is mesmerizing.

Go Home, Ricky! by Gene Kwak

Gene Kwak uses wrestling to explore masculinity, family, and identity in this book that is unputdownable. He ties in humor during even the most dramatic moments in exactly the right way.

The Four Humors by Mina Seçkin

Family secrets (and bodily fluids) spill off the page in this tender and melancholic book. Mina Seçkin perfectly encapsulates what it means to be a millennial in today’s mucked up world.

The Atmospherians by Alex McElroy

Alex McElroy understands humor. Their book is about social media influencers creating a getaway for shitty men. It is the perfect novel for a post-Trump world where we can start reckoning with our recent past.

Win Me Something by Kyle Lucia Wu

Kyle Lucia Wu’s coming-of-age novel is quiet and subtle. She fills the book with perfectly crafted sentences and offers insight into growing up biracial and never feeling like you fit in.

Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer by Jamie Figueroa

This is the saddest book of the year. Hands down. Jamie Figueroa’s book follows a family trying to break a cycle of turmoil yet never truly being able to do so.

Punch Me Up To The Gods by Brian Broome

The only non-fiction in the Debutiful Dozen is a perfectly crafted and eye-opening account of Brian Broome’s life. While his story will draw you in, expect to be blown away by how he very openly reveals the truths of how he became the man he is today.

The Divines by Ellie Eaton

Ellie Eaton’s book can easily be described as “Mean Girls in the U.K. during the 1990s.” What she does with time and place in the novel is breathtaking. She explores what a novel can do with a breezy plot. This book is a very fun read.

Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So

The world lost a great mind and writer when Anthony Veasna So passed away prior to his book coming out. His short stories were excellent and they’re a clear indication of the type of stories we could have had

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

This slim novel packs a punch the size of a 400-page novel in less than 200. Caleb Azumah Nelson is poetic and vulnerable on every page.

The Rest of the Best (2021)

Abundance by Jakob Guanzon

Assembly by Natasha Brown

Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim

The Brittanys by Brittany Ackerman

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zaunder

Eternal Night at the Museum by Tyler Barton

Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler

Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung

God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney

Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian

Hades, Argentina by Daniel Loedel

Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih

Low Country by J. Nicole Jones

Of Women and Saly by Gabriella Garcia

A Play For the End of the World by Jai Chakrabarti

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.

Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez

Revival Season by Monica West

The Rock Eaters by Brenda Peynado

The Teller of Secrets by Bisi Adjapon

Three Rooms by Jo Hamya

Yes, Daddy by Jonathan Parks-Ramage

Walking on Cowrie Shells by Nana Nkweti

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