10 debut books you should read this May

10 debut books you should read this May

Can you believe it’s… checks notes… May. May 2021. Is it really?

As the year keeps on churning, so does the book world. Somehow, May has managed to put out a collection of debut books so delectable, it almost seems unfair to the other months. From indie memoirs to books about cults to short story collections that will knock you out. May did the damn thing.

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A Life of Books with JoAnne Tompkins, author of What Comes After

A Life of Books with JoAnne Tompkins, author of What Comes After

JoAnne Tompkins, author of What Comes After, had a career as a mediator and judicial officer before writing her debut book. In her first novel, she explores a familiar situation: an idyllic town turned upside down by a the shocking death of two teenage boys.

The book, however, is about more than the mystery. It’s about how the families can put their lives back together and how the town can trust again. It’s a meditation on optimism in the darkest of times.

Below, the author answers Debutiful‘s A Life of Books Questionnaire.

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A Life of Books with Forsyth Harmon, author of Justine

A Life of Books with Forsyth Harmon, author of Justine

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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Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer was Jamie Figueroa’s compass through life

Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer was Jamie Figueroa’s compass through life

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’s American debut can help break patterns

Layla AlAmmar’s American debut can help break patterns

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 MagazineAesthetica Magazine, the St Andrews University Prose Journal, and in the collection Underground: Tales for London.

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10 debut books you should read this March

10 debut books you should read this March

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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Lauren Oyler knows we’re all faking it

Lauren Oyler knows we’re all faking it

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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A Life of Books with Mateo Askaripour, author of Black Buck

A Life of Books with Mateo Askaripour, author of Black Buck

In Black Buck, Mateo Askaripour uses a gregarious Black salesman in an all white company to satirically take down corporate America. Through sharp-witted humor and a lot of heart, Askaripour sheds light on the microaggressions and blatant racism Black men and women go through on a daily basis.

The book has been praised by everyone from Publishers Weekly to The Today Show and was one of Debutiful‘s best debuts to read this month.

Below, Mateo Askaripour answered A Life of Books, Debutiful‘s ongoing questionnaire to better get to know writers and what inspires them.

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Detransition, Baby is a bourgeois melodrama, just like Torrey Peters wanted

Detransition, Baby is a bourgeois melodrama, just like Torrey Peters wanted

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Detransition, Baby, the debut novel by Torrey Peters, is a pretty easy-to-follow domestic romance drama. There’s a woman whose ex wants to raise a baby with her that he accidentally conceived with a coworker.

Oh, the woman in trans. The man has detransitioned. And the coworker is cisgender.

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David Hopen came of age with his coming-of-age debut

David Hopen came of age with his coming-of-age debut

David Hopen‘s debut coming-of-age book The Orchard is about an Orthodox Jewish student whose life is transformed when he arrives at a new school. The book follows students on the verge of adulthood and is in part based on a Jewish myth. The book itself took Hopen nearly his entire twenties after he started it while he was the characters’ ages.

I spoke to Hopen about how he grew up along with his book and how it may or may not have changed as he grew further and further away from the age he was writing about.

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