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

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

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews (Viking; August 2)

In this moving debut novel, Mathews follows a recent college graduate who goes through the pains of working in corporate America during a recession. There she discovers what it means to be an immigrant in modern society and how to find community. It’s a searing portrait of the joys and pains of being a young adult in turbulent times.

Acceptance by Emi Nietfeld (Penguin Press; August 2)

Nietfeld’s debut memoir covers her life from teen homelessness to Ivy League education to Big Tech employment. She not only thoughtfully examines her life but also what the American Dream means today. She poignantly reveals the pains of a dysfunctional childhood, including bouts of mental health struggles, as well as the highs of achieving goals.

The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty (Knopf; August 2)

Following four young adults recently aged out of the foster system, Gunty blends realism and more experimental prose and technics to tell an unforgettable story. It is equally funny as it is heartbreaking.

Mother in the Dark by Kayla Maiuri (Riverhead; August 9)

Told in alternating times in a young woman’s life, Maiuri expertly peels apart the complicated relationships between the main character’s mother and sister. The rich and haunting story is coupled with prose just as rich and just as haunting. It’s a novel that packs a punch and will sit with you long after you finish it.

The Last Karankawas by Kimberly Garza (Henry Holt; August 9)

Set in a Texan community of Mexican and Filipino families, Garza provides and unflinching portrait of how these communities must strive to survive. Garza provides a voice for a part of America often forgotten about.

Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi (Viking; August 9)

Yagi’s captivating debut set in Japan follows a woman who claims she is pregnant to avoid sexual harassment. She carries this lie for nine months in this darkly funny story that point blank calls out the actions of men.

A Map For Missing by Belinda Huijuan Tang (Penguin Press; August 9)

This sprawling novel explores life in a fast-changing China where a son agrees to return from America after a decade away to help find his missing father. The complexities between the man and his family are just as complex as trying to navigate the new dynamics of a country he left long ago.

Moth by Melody Razak (Harper; August 9)

In this heart wrenching debut set in 1940s India, Razak has created a memorable historical family drama readers won’t soon forget. Not only will the characters leap off the page, so will the plot. The book is an emotional rollercoaster.

Paul by Daisy Lafarge (Riverhead; August 16)

Poet Lafarge’s debut book is a sharp and lyrical portrait of a toxic relationship and breaking free. Every sentence in this moving book is breathtaking.

Perish by LaToya Watkins (Tiny Reparations; August 23)

Generational trauma is the gravitational pull of this debut novel. Following a Black Texan family, Watkins provides four rich and unique characters who narrate this book about a family saying goodbye to their headstrong matriarch. It is a family drama all readers can connect with.

My Government Means To Kill Me by Rasheed Newson (Flatiron; August 23)

This 1980s-set, queer, coming-of-age book will wreck you. Newson has written a book that needs to be instantly added to the Queer NYC Canon. So many times media has fumbled these stories, but Newson carefully tells the story of a young, Black, queer man in 1980s New York City without falling into tropes or relying on trauma to propel plot. This book is a reckoning.

High School Romance by Marston Hefner (Clash; August 30)

Hefner’s debut collection is the type of book that forces you to think of what story can be. It’s a clever mediation into our deepest desires and what makes us tick.

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