12 can’t-miss debut books you should read this May

Each month, Debutiful helps readers discover debut authors who are releasing can’t-miss books!

Little Rabbit by Alyssa Songsiridej (Bloomsbury; May 3)

This debut novel allows sex to play a central (and steamy) role in the story without it turning tragic. Songsiridej has such a grasp on what makes us tick as people and uses it to leap off the page. Her young dancer and older choreographer feel so lived in. It’s sexy. It’s intimate. It’s the first great novel of the summer.

The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara (Norton; May 3)

A mix of historical fiction and modern satire, King Rao covers just about every type of story literature fans love. It spans from a coconut farm in India to the near future when tech companies control the governments of the world. Vara has crafted a sprawling story that is paced so well it feels like a concise novella.

We Do What We Do In the Dark by Michelle Hart (Riverhead; May 3)

A young woman has an affair with an older professor. It’s the bones of so many stories, but Hart makes it feel so fresh and she has a sharp eye that takes unexpected turns just when you think you know how stories like this should turn out. Hart’s lyrical prose sing on every page.

You’ve Changed by Pyae Moe Thet War (Catapult; May 3)

Subtitled “Fake Accents, Feminism, and Other Comedies from Myanmar,” this is one of the definite essay collections for millennial immigrants. Pyae Moe Thet War explores complex viewpoints and shifts how we can think about, and discuss, immigration in our current world.

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (Ecco; May 3)

The first thing you need to know about this book is that it’s about a woman who befriends an octopus. If you’re not sold on Van Pelt’s novel already, the other thing is she has crafted one of the coziest debuts we’ve ever covered. The book makes you think about life but also wraps you in a warm blanket by the sea on a breezy summer night.

Six Days in Rome by Francesca Giacco (Grand Central; May 3)

Rome is as much of a character in this stunning debut as the main character who travels there to get over heartbreak. It’s a thought-provoking story where you feel, smell, hear, and experience everything the characters do.

First Time For Everything by Henry Fry (Ballantine; May 10)

Fry’s debut is fun, fresh, and an exciting page-turner. It’s a big fun gay novel about a man down on his luck who decides it’s finally time to get to know himself and become his own self and not the version society wants him to be.

Teenager by Bud Smith (Vintage; May 10)

Teenager is one hell of a coming-of-age story. Smith has perfectly captures what it’s like to be young, carefree, and making slightly stupid decisions along the way. It’s 400 pages but it’s one you’ll stay up reading in one binge.

Mirror Made of Rain by Naheed Phiroze Patel (Unnamed Press; May 17)

This is an evocative story that gives insight into the Indian experience. While the topics are very specific, Patel’s prose and exploration of those topics make it so anyone from any background can connect to her work and characters. It’s a beautifully written book that will stay with readers for long after they finish the last page.

The Shore by Katie Runde (Scribner; May 24)

Over the course of summer, a mother and her daughters come to terms with heartbreak and disappointment. As depressing as that sounds, Runde fills the book with pitch perfect humor that balances the heart tugging moments with bouts of laughter.

Rainbow Rainbow by Lydia Conklin (Catapult; May 31)

The stories in Conklin’s debut are queer, bold, and beautiful. Each story is so full of laughter, love, awkwardness, and heartbreak that readers will feel so at home in each and every one. Throughout the collection, it’s clear Conklin has a masterful grasp on characterization and tone. They give the reader exactly what they’re looking for even if they don’t know it.

Planes by Peter Baker (Knopf; May 31)

Using a major and global event as the backdrop, Baker focuses in on how the event changes the lives of individuals in subtle ways. Baker effortlessly tackles what it means to be human in the face of inhumane events.

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