Meet 4 writers collected in the PEN America Best Debut Short Story Collection Anthology

Meet 4 writers collected in the PEN America Best Debut Short Story Collection Anthology

Every year, PEN America releases an anthology of the best short stories written by first time published writers. This year, a dozen writers were selected from a wide-ranging array of literary journals – both in print and online. They were judged and selected by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Kali Fajardo-Anstine, and Beth Piatote.

For the past two years, I have asked a handful of those in the collection to answer some get-to-know-you questions, which you can read here: 2021 and 2020.

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10 debut books you should read this August

10 debut books you should read this August

As summer begins to wane, the heat from the books being published continues to stay hot, hot hot. This month, the books vary from historical fiction about witches, memoirs about grief, perfect short story collections, and a novel told from the perspective of an unborn child.

Regardless of what types of books tickle your fancy, the debuts that have been coming out will cover any itch you have. This year has provided some of the most unique, genre pushing stories coupled with prose that is out of this world. This month’s collection is no different.

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A Life of Books with Brian Broome, author of Punch Me Up To the Gods

A Life of Books with Brian Broome, author of Punch Me Up To the Gods

Brian Broome is a poet and screenwriter who lives in Pittsburgh where he is K. Leroy Irvis Fellow and instructor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been a finalist in The Moth storytelling competition and won the grand prize in Carnegie Mellon University’s Martin Luther King Writing Awards. He also won a VANN Award from the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation for journalism in 2019.

His debut memoir, Punch Me Up To the Gods came out earlier in 2021 and we corresponded via email so he could answer Debutiful’s reoccurring “A Life of Books” questionnaire.

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10 debut books to read this July

10 debut books to read this July

Considering the record heat waves America is currently suffering through, it would be tacky to talk about how these books are hot, yeah?

These ten debuts, mostly from July but also some June debuts you can’t miss are must reads. They range from introspective magical realism to coming-of-age comedies; from memoirs to books in translation. These ten debut books are guaranteed to make you forget about the oppressive heat.

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Vince Granata knew he always had to write his heartbreaking and revealing memoir Everything is Fine

Vince Granata knew he always had to write his heartbreaking and revealing memoir Everything is Fine

Vince Granata‘s memoir Everything is Fine is one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve ever read. I think that term is thrown out a lot; however, the story inside it truly made me weep. Vince’s brother, with undiagnosed schizophrenia, killed their mother. His memoir is about that event and what came after. How could he still love his brother? How would their family move on? So many questions I asked myself how I’d react in Granata’s shoes but couldn’t.

Everything is Fine is a moving mediation on pain and suffering, but also love and persistence. We corresponded via email about his background and why this memoir had to be written.

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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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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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