The 12 Best Debuts of 2020 (So Far)

The 12 Best Debuts of 2020 (So Far)

This year hasn’t gone the way any of us thought it’d go. One thing that we can always count on is a crop of debut and emerging writers to produce delectable books. 

So many stellar books came out in the first half of 2020 that I had trouble narrowing it down. The books featured on this list are the ones that I have recommended or have thought about the most. Of course, there are so many delectable books that were left off this list. Like I always say: art is subjective.

Here are the dozen debuts that I feel everyone should pick up at one point this year.

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Sanaë Lemoine on France, teenagers, and creating The Margot Affair

Sanaë Lemoine on France, teenagers, and creating The Margot Affair

Sanaë Lemoine has lived all over the globe. When she was creating The Margot Affair, a specific time and place kept calling to her. Thus, Margot was born as a seventeen year old living in Paris.

Margot is on the cusp of adulthood when she decides to change the course of her own life, and as a result changes the trajectory of all of her relatives’ lives. When she reveals she is the secret daughter of a politician and a famous actress, her secret world is unspooled and readers get to watch as the wall of lies built up around her comes tumbling down.

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Ashleigh Bryant Phillips gives a voice to the forgotten in Sleepovers

Ashleigh Bryant Phillips gives a voice to the forgotten in Sleepovers

To say Ashleigh Bryant Phillips is proud of being born and raised in Woodland, North Carolina is an understatement. Her social media is @woodlandraised and her debut story collection Sleepovers is largely inspired by her upbringing in the rural town tucked away in the northeast corner of the state. 

That collection won her the C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize, which comes with a prize of $10,000 and publication from Hub City Press. Sleepovers features a wide variety of voices from people often forgot about society. If you ever get the chance to speak to Phillips, you realize her voice and point of view are just as distinct as the characters she writes. 

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Zaina Arafat subverts expectations in You Exist Too Much

Zaina Arafat subverts expectations in You Exist Too Much

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Zaina Arafat is a Palestinian-American whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Granta, Washington Post, and more of the most prestigious media outlets in America. She also holds an M.A. in international affairs from Columbia University and an M.F.A. from Iowa where she also taught writing. Additionally, she has taught at The School of the New York Times, the International Writing Program and Sackett Street Writers, as well as abroad in Jordan, Egypt and Eritrea.

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Jean Kyoung Frazier on why Pizza Girl was written at the perfect time in her life

Jean Kyoung Frazier on why Pizza Girl was written at the perfect time in her life

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Jean Kyoung Frazier‘s book about a pregnant pizza delivery girl is hilarious. Even though Frazier never intended for Pizza Girl to have a wry sense of dark comedy sprinkled onto it, her natural funniness came through page after page. Don’t get me wrong: the novel is dark. It follows a delivery girl who becomes infatuated with a married client. The result is a perfectly balances insight into the young woman that Frazier says she couldn’t have written a year before she finally started and might not be able to write now.

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An unpublished 2017 interview with Ibram X. Kendi

An unpublished 2017 interview with Ibram X. Kendi

This interview was conducted in early 2017 at the Tucson Festival of Books with Ibram X. Kendi. The interview was meant to be published at a site I freelanced for, but due to changes in editors, it fell through the cracks and was never published. In light of recent events and the rise of racism in our country, I have decided to dig it out of old emails and share it with the world. I hope reading this offers some solace or help in some way.

Please consider donating to the Minnesota Freedom Fund.

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Digital Book Tour – Carter Sickels, The Prettiest Star

Digital Book Tour – Carter Sickels, The Prettiest Star

With so many author tours being canceled, Debutiful has invited any author who had events canceled or postponed due to COVID-19 to do a reading and a brief interview as part of the Digital Book Tour podcast series.

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Podcast Episode 06: Ilana Masad, author of All My Mother’s Lovers

Podcast Episode 06: Ilana Masad, author of All My Mother’s Lovers

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Ilana Masad is a fiction writer and book critic whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the New Yorker, The Paris Review, NPR, and more. She is also a doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she also serves as the assistant nonfiction editor for Prairie Schooner. She is also the founder and host of the literary podcast The Other Stories.

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Genevieve Hudson’s Boys in Alabama explores what it means to be queer in the Deep South

Genevieve Hudson’s Boys in Alabama explores what it means to be queer in the Deep South

Genevieve Hudson’s debut novel Boys of Alabama comes with a lot of buzz. After he debut story collection Pretend We Live Here mad a big splash in 2018 with their electric prose and fascinating characters, this book builds on those skills they so carefully displayed across the stories.

Boys of Alabama is about Max, a boy who may or may not bring dead animals back to life. When his father is transferred from his German company to Alabama, Max becomes entwined with Pan, a confident boy who wears dresses and believes in and is fascinated with witchcraft. The book expertly dissects queer coming-of-age and refreshingly leans into teenage love, lust, drama, and growing pains.

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