You may recognize the name Forsyth Harmon. If you do, you’re lucky enough to have read tremendous books that she has illustrated like the essay collection, Girlhood, by Melissa Febos.
Now Forsyth has her own illustrated novel out called Justine and it is exquisite. Set in 1999, the story follows Ali as she meets Justine in a life changing series of events. Justine takes Ali under her wings at a local store where the two start as coworkers and blossom into something more. Harmon’s work is intimate. It’s cozy in the way that you want a book to be but allows you to be uncomfortable with the realities of these young lives.
I wanted to know more about what makes Forsyth Harmon tick and asker her to fill out Debutiful’s A Life of Books questionnaire. Read her answers below.
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Jamie Figueroa‘s debut book, Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer, is a story filled with trauma and about breaking cycles. It’s about a family in a small Southwestern town where nothing seemed to go right for generations. While reading the trauma and difficult decisions these siblings make can be hard to digest, it’s one of the most beautifully written and important books to come out in 2021.
The author spent years writing it, allowing the book to be her compass through life as she slept on couches and found odd jobs that allowed her time and space to write this book. From rushing to get to college to taking years off in between to finish then finding a home at the Institute of American Indian Arts as an adult, Jamie Figueroa’s life has always needed time and space to figure things out.
I spoke with the author about her life, her debut, and what writers inspire her.
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Layla AlAmmar grew up in Kuwait where she found solace in books. Her childhood passion turned into a career. AlAmmar has an MSc in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh and is working on a PhD on the intersection of Arab women’s fiction and literary trauma theory.
Her book, Silence is a Sense, is her American debut, but she previously published The Pact We Made, which is available in many countries outside of America. She’s also has work published in Evening Standard, Quail Bell Magazine, Aesthetica Magazine, the St Andrews University Prose Journal, and in the collection Underground: Tales for London.
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In her debut novel, Cherie Jones tells a cautionary tale set mostly in Barbados. A grandmother uses a story about one-armed sister. Her granddaughter Lala listens to what happens to girls who disobey their mothers but the question is, does she absorb the story?
Years later, Lala is married to a petty burglar and their seemingly cozy lives are upended in a spiral of violence, crime, and deceit. What unfolds is, How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House, a devastating debut that is a must-read. Be warned though: you’ll want to finish this in one sitting. So block out a lot of time one you start this.
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Below, Cherie Jones answers the A Life of Books Questionnaire for Debutiful.
It’s hard to believe it’s March again. The past year has been difficult for us all, but hopefully debut books helped get you through 2020. Let’s kick off the “new year” with another 10 debuts that will make you laugh, cry, and question everything you thought you knew.
These debuts are about families coming to terms with their grief, mothers moving on from dark times in their life, women named Sarah, and money.
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Betina González is an award-winning writer from Argentina, who has studied in El Paso and Pittsburgh, the latter of which she called home for nearly a decade. While her work has garnered her praise in South America, she had yet to publish a book in English. That is, until American Delirium.
Continue reading “Betina González and translator Heather Cleary discuss American Delirium”
You ever come across a book that just looks too smart for you? That’s how I felt with Math Without Numbers by Milo Beckman. Luckily, the book explores math concepts in a friendly and accessible way. Using illustrations by M Erazo, Beckman gives an illustrated tour on what we call “math.”
Milo Beckman completed the graduate-level course sequence in mathematics at age sixteen, has written for FiveThirtyEight, helped create crosswords for The New York Times, and has written numerous academic essays.
While Debutiful has covered non-fiction before, the site has never covered anything like this. I just had to dive into Beckman’s brain and learn about what makes him tick.
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Lauren Oyler is 6’0. That may or may not be a lie, but it is in her Twitter bio. It also has nothing to do with her searing debut novel Fake Accounts other than the fact that no one can be sure who is and isn’t lying on the internet.
Her novel, set in the early days of the Trump Administration, follows an unnamed narrator who discovers her boyfriend is a prolific online conspiracy theorist. She flees to Berlin where she falls in her own pattern of lies and deception. The book, which takes place entirely in early 2016, is a reflection on the America we live in today. Not much has changed in the past four years. The lies are bigger, but they were always there. If the internet has done one thing, it’s just exposed us to the seedy underbelly that always existed. Fake Accounts also sheds a light on this world of lies, attention seeking, and distruction.
I chatted with Oyler the day before Biden’s Inauguration about the internet, lies, and why conspiracy theories are boring.
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