The Most Anticipated Debut Books of 2023, Part 1

Debutiful turns four on January 4th, 2023 and we vow to make this the biggest year ever. Expect more debut authors to discover than ever before with two in-depth interviews on the podcast per month, weekly First Taste Reading Series episodes, monthly A Life of Books interviews, and a few other surprises along the way.

In the meantime here are 50 debut books you should pre-order right now. Titles include a list of books founder Adam Vitcavage has read already and loved, has on his nightstand and wants to read, and is desperate to get his hands on.

You can purchase the books listed below on Debutiful’s Bookshop.org account by clicking here. Each purchase will help support Debutiful.

January

The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff (January 3; Ballantine)

Fans of “Goodbye, Earl” by The Chicks will love this complex tale of female friendship, dead husband rumors, and pitch-perfect humor. Shroff nails the absurd reactions strong, independent women get from society.

Moonrise Over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks (January 10; Algonquin)

Set during the beginning of the civil rights movement in 1950s Alabama, Minnicks creates a timely, uplifting story of the beautiful complexities of being Black in America. The turmoil her characters overcome isn’t specific to a time period. They’re an ongoing battle Black men and women face today.

The Dream Builders by Oindrila Mukherjee (January 10; Tin House)

A kaleidoscope of characters narrates this story of tragedy and grief. Mukherjee understands how to make characters leap off the page.

In The Upper Country by Kai Thomas (January 10; Viking)

In his historical fiction novel, Thomas plays with form as readers learn about Canadian slavery, land ownership, and the Underground Railroad. Told from the perspective of two women interviewing each other, this is the perfect book for historical fiction buffs as well as readers who enjoy modern, fragmented storytelling.

The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley (January 10; Soft Skull)

If you need a laugh after the last few years, Cauley’s dark comedy about doomsday preppers is what you need this winter. She’s a former lawyer turned comedy writer (ever heard of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah?) and her knowledge of both worlds and skillsets is on full display on every page. She expertly tackles the seriousness the preppers feel as well as the hilarious reactions everyone else has.

I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself by Marissa Crane (January 17; Catapult)

Crane meditates on queer love and the government’s relationship with our bodies and children in this fragmented novel that is filled with beautiful passage after beautiful passage. It’s a masterclass is gorgeous writing that sings while also punching you in the gut. Expect to read a novel like you’ve never experienced before and walk away feeling changed forever.

Please Report Your Bug Here by Josh Riedel (January 17; Henry Holt)

Riedel’s literary techno novel is exhilarating. It takes our fear of the big evil tech company and makes it scarily realistic as characters get sucked into metaverse worlds we never knew existed. It’s a surreal expose of the tech world with sharp wit and a lot to say. It’s the novel for everyone who hates [insert social media brand here] but still uses it because we’re trapped in an addictive and dependent relationship with it.

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey (January 17; William Morrow)

Many novels have been dubbed the next Bridget Jones and Heisey’s hilarious and heartfelt novel holds up to that label. Funny and tender, this is the cozy novel to kick your year off on the right foot.

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer (January 31; Berkley)

Billed as soulful and powerful, this historical fiction set in the Caribbean looks like it will be an amazing read for people who loved Maisy Card’s stellar 2020 debut These Ghosts Are Family.

February

Brutes by Dizz Tate (February 7; Catapult)

Dark and beautiful instantly come to mind when thinking about how to describe the teenage girl friendship in this book. Dark and beautiful also describes Tate’s writing. It explores coming-of-age in such new and unique ways. Brutes will mesmerize you and catch you off guard with how accurate yet unpredictable it is.

Maame by Jessica George (February 7; St. Martins)

A story of a woman caught between two cultures, George explores the complexities of culture, family, and sense of belonging in a lighthearted yet poignant way.

What Napoleon Could Not Do by DK Nnuro (February 7; Riverhead)

Nnuro insightfully explores what happens to a family and the individual when we follow our dreams. At the center of this majestic novel are two siblings from Ghana. One moves to America and achieves great success and one stays home, stuck in a world he doesn’t want to live in. Napoleon is a moving novel that expertly dissects what makes us tick.

The Applicant by Nazli Koca (February 14; Grove)

A tense and tender book about being a woman, being an immigrant, and being someone still figuring it all out. Koca’s prose is electric and transcendent. The Applicant is an unforgettable novel.

My Last Innocent Year by Daisy Alpert Florin (February 14; Henry Holt)

What was it like to be graduating college and stepping out into the real world when the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal broke? This is a riveting coming-of-age novel about a young woman in that exact situation. Many people have captured what it’s like on a college campus, but this has entered the pantheon of campus novels. Florin’s book is a frontrunner for novel of the year.

Hourglass by Keiran Goddard (February 14; Europa)

This is a novel of short, fragmented, stream-of-consciousness passages that are sexy and thought-provoking. Goddard is an exceptional poet and that translates to this debut novel.

Sink by Joseph Earl Thomas (February 21; Grand Central)

A fearless debut that will change your life. I read this in one sitting and it moved me in ways I couldn’t imagine. Thomas moves through brutal moments and uplifting ones with grace. It is a memoir that should be taught in writing classes from now until the end of time.

A Country You Can Leave by Asale Angel-Ajani (February 21; MCD)

Tania James (The Tusk That Did the Damage) said this novel “shattered me with its pain and sweetness.” It’s about a fraught mother-daughter relationship where the two must rely on each other to survive.

Wolfish by Erica Berry (February 22; Flatiron)

This is the story of a legendary wolf as well as a chronicle of Berry’s own life. Using the mythos of wolves as the backbone of a way to explore multiple topics, this is a book unlike any other. It is a surprising and powerful read.

March

Thirst for Salt by Madelaine Lucas (March 7; Tin House)

Lucas invites readers into a seductive and tender relationship with her debut novel. She captures the raw, instinctual lust we have at the beginning of relationships and exposes how we yearn for others. Thirst for Salt is an engrossing page-turner you will salivate to at every sentence.

Go As a River by Shelley Read (March 7; Speigel & Grau)

Set in 1940s Colorado, this is a love letter to our history and the land we occupy. Fans of Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s Woman of Light will enjoy this delicate novel.

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson (March 7; Pamela Dorman)

This is a literary version of The Real Housewives. Filled with fun, sometimes sloppy, characters with an enchanting and enthralling plot. This is the perfect book to shake off the winter snow with. Hot, hot hot.

In Memoriam by Alice Winn (March 7; Knopf)

Love and war. The two things that will change a man forever. This is the story of two men who fall in love during World War I. Winn expertly shifts focus from their personal war to the one that engulfed the globe.

What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez (March 7; Grand Central)

Jamie Ford calls this portrait of a Puerto Rican family “hilarious, heartbreaking, and ass-kicking.” It follows the family as they discover their long-lost daughter/sister/auntie on a reality show and set out to find her.

Brother & Sister Enter the Forest by Richard Mirabella (March 14; Catapult)

A modern, mysterious folk story encompasses Mirabella’s debut. He weaves two timelines together to explore the lengths we go to for love. It’s a strange, beautiful, and memorable book.

A Manual for How to Love Us by Erin Slaughter (March 14; Harper Perennial)

In her linked story collection set in the American South, Slaughter explores women going through breakups, getting caught in pyramid schemes, and everything in between. It’s already on the shortlist for the best book cover of the year.

Wandering Souls by Cecile Pin (March 21; Henry Holt)

The haunting story of three siblings turned orphans as they immigrate from Vietnam to Hong Kong to the United Kingdom. Pin dances through time and place as she unravels the guilt the siblings feel and how they mend their relationships and build new ones.

The Nursery by Szilvia Molnar (March 21; Pantheon)

Fans of Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder should look forward to The Nursery. It is a searing portrait of postpartum motherhood. Molnar’s visceral writing is to die for.

Chlorine by Jade Song (March 28; William Morrow)

The story of a young swimmer who becomes obsessed with being in the water. Song sucks readers in with unforgettable language and explores our carnal desire of want. Reading it was like an out-of-body experience.

April

House of Cotton by Monica Brashears (April 4; Flatiron)

This novel about the trials and tribulations of being a poor Black woman in the South has received praise from the likes of Deesha Philyaw, George Saunders, and Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. Described as a “sly social commentary” that “cuts straight to the bone” this is a novel for anyone who loved Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward.

Blue Hour by Tiffany Clarke Harrison (April 4; Soft Skull)

Harrison weaves together multiple themes in thought-provoking fragments that question how modern America reacts to grief, trauma, race, and motherhood.

Carmen and Grace by Melissa Coss Aquino (April 4; William Morrow)

Two cousins get drawn into a world of drugs where they struggle to escape a fate neither of them wanted while figuring out who they are. The tension Melissa Coss Aquino creates will steal your breath.

Brown Boy by Omer Aziz (April 4; Scribner)

Aziz’s memoir about being a first-generation Pakistani Muslim living in Toronto explores turbulent times paired with great successes. He examines what it means to succeed when everyone still views you as an outsider.

Sea Change by Gina Chung (April 11; Vintage)

Sea Change is a standout of the 2023 debut class. It will pull you in from the first page and not let go as you traverse through a sea of originality. It’s filled with stunning and scrumptious prose.

We Are a Haunting by Tyriek White (April 18; Astra House)

An ode to the working class hustle that America was built on but that never gets the praise it deserves. Kiese Laymon is right: “Tyriek White did not come to play.”

May

Innards by Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (May 2; WW Norton)

The stories in this collection about the lives of South African residents living through and beyond Apartheid are like firecrackers. The early pages of each story build the perfect crescendo that will shake readers.

Sorrows of Others by Ada Zhang (May 9; Public Space)

Each story in Zhang’s debut collection is illuminating. The stories shift in place and time but at the heart of each one are memorable characters balancing the quietness in between the moments that shape their lives. From love and death to being part of revolutions

Dykette by Jenny Fran Davis (May 16; Henry Holt)

A queer love story filled with messiness, hilarity, and razor-sharp writing. Dykette may take place in the winter, but it will heat up your summer in the first few pages.

The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams (May 16; Putnam)

Agbaje-Williams expertly dissects how being an immigrant shape every aspect of the lives of the three titular characters. Rumaan Alam calls it “a taut study” while Ashley Audain said it was “bold, brilliant satire was refreshing and confronting and completely entertaining.”

Notes on Her Color by Jennifer Neal (May 23; Catapult)

Race and body are explored in this magical realism debut where a girl’s fraught relationship with her mother shapes her in unexpected ways.

June

Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Ria Chang-Eppig (June 6; Bloomsbury)

A page-turning adventure about a Chinese pirate queen awaits you this summer. Deep as the Sky will captivate readers regardless of what genre or style they like. This is beautifully written with a sharp eye for pace. It feels cinematic.

Leg by Greg Marshall (June 13; Abrams)

Greg Marshall’s memoir is hilarious and sincere. Subtitled “The Story of a Limb and the Boy Who Grew from It” allows readers to meet the author in a genuine way and by the end of it feel like they’re best friends.

Banyan Moon by Thao Thai (June 27; Mariner)

This book about generations of women in a family spans decades and continents. It promises secrets and love stories. Sign me up.

Beyond

The following books have been put on Debutiful’s radar through recommendations from other writers and will be written about in-depth in The Most Anticipated Debut Books of 2023, Part 2 in July.

All-Night Pharmacy by Ruth Madievsky (July 11; Catapult)

The Deep Sky by Yumi Kitasei (July 18; Flatiron)

Do Tell by Lindsay Lynch (July 23; Doubleday)

The Peach Seed by Anita Gail Jones (August 1; Henry Holt)

The Men Can’t Be Saved by Ben Purkert (August; Abrams)

Mama Said by Kristen Gentry (October; WVU Press)

Company by Shannon Sanders (October 3; Greywolf)

Hombrecito by Santiago Jose Sanchez (Fall; Riverhead)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s