12 can’t miss debut books to read in January

Each month, Debutiful helps readers discover debut authors with can’t miss books!

You can purchase all of Debutiful’s recommendations via Bookshop.org.

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan (Simon and Schuster, Jan. 4)

In this dystopian-tinged novel, a mother loses her child and must enter a state-run program to teach mothers how to be “better.” Jessamine Chan’s book is addictive and haunting; both in plot and prose.

Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho (Viking, Jan. 4)

The story of two friends that is a brilliant examination into young life and told in a brilliant fashion. Jean Chen Ho has created two of the most memorable characters in recent fiction.

Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades (Random House, Jan. 4)

A wholly original love letter to Queen, women of color, immigrants, and coming-of-age in modern America. Daphne Palasi Andreades’s kaleidoscope of a novel will make your jaws drop.

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez (Flatiron, Jan. 4)

Xochitl Gonzalez’s novel is part love story, part meditation on family, and part social commentary. Gonzalez has created a breezy novel with commanding prose that will uplift readers.

The Latinist by Mark Prins (W.W. Norton and Company, Jan 4)

This page-turning book takes a Greek myth, updates it, and sets it at Oxford. Every page radiates the heat of a story about power and obsession. It’s an unforgettable read.

Shit Cassandra Saw by Gwen E. Kirby (Penguin, Jan. 11)

This book is wild. Gwen E. Kirby takes every zany idea that writers only attempt in their wildest dreams and make them work. From the title and cover are to the unusual structure and everything in between, you won’t forget this pitch-perfect book.

Wahala by Nikki May (Custom House, Jan 11)

What happens when a new person joins a tight trio of friends? That’s what Nikki May’s book seeks to answer in this fun yet dramatic book. Underneath the friendship melodrama is a careful examination of race and gender, which adds a thoughtful layer that will keep readers intrigued to find out what happens next.

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu (William Morrow, Jan. 18)

Readers should expect multiple continents to be visited across numerous centuries in this expansive and breathtaking book. Sequoia Nagamatsu’s follows an archeologist who continues the work of his recently deceased daughter… but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn (Pamela Dorman Books, Jan. 18)

This is the romantic comedy for both readers who love rom coms and hate rom comes. It’s clever, smart, and fresh. It’s a great way to kick start your New Year Reading Resolution.

Manywhere by Morgan Thomas (MCD, Jan. 25)

The stories in Morgan Thomas’s collection are dazzling. They’re examinations of queerness, location, the body, and more. What is most exciting about this collection is how fearless it is. Morgan Thomas is a knockout.

Defenestrate by Renée Branum (Bloomsbury, Jan. 25)

Renée Branum imaginative debut follows a woman and her twin brother relocate to Prague to break an ancestral curse on their family. There, she discovers more about herself and her family in a story with gorgeous narration.

Open by Rachel Krantz (Harmony, Jan. 25)

Subtitled “An Uncensored Memoir of Love, Liberation, and Non-Monogamy,” this is an eye-opening memoir from journalist Rachel Krantz. Her grasp on language and structure are on full display in this revealing story.

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