In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating 10 female authors that readers need to keep an eye out for this spring and summer. Whether they are debut novelists or authors who are still waiting for their first trip to the bestseller list, these women are not household names—but they should be.
Carry the One (S&S, March)
The author of three previous novels, Carol Anshaw has written a book that is a page-turner, thought-provoking and beautiful on the sentence level with Carry the One. The story revolves around three siblings (and their significant others) who are bound together by a fatal car accident after a wedding. Anshaw follows the characters for 25 years, as life goes on and they must live with their guilt. The prose is gorgeous and the characters all compelling (and oh-so-human). If you’ve never read one of Anshaw’s books before, start here. You won’t regret it.
The Lifeboat (Regan Arthur, April)
Rogan worked in the architecture and engineering fields and raised triplets before turning to novel-writing with The Lifeboat. Her debut, set in 1914, is an intricately structured tale of a woman who believes she’s found security in a wealthy marriage, but then finds herself literally adrift: Their luxury liner sinks on the way back to America and she is floating with 38 other people in the middle of the Atlantic. It’s a suspenseful, thoughtful work that contemplates some of life’s biggest questions and is guaranteed to get a book club talking.
The Uninvited Guests (Harper, May)
British novelist Sadie Jones has earned literary acclaim with her two previous novels, both historical tales featuring characters who are a bit out of step with the rest of the world. In her third novel, she’s taking on the traditional English country house story with a tale set during “Downton Abbey” days. Over the course of one wild and memorable night, the Torrington-Swift family finds their life turned upside down. It’s a gentle comedy of manners, full of eccentric characters and evocative turns of phrase.
The Killing Moon (Orbit, May)
A popular blogger who just received her third Hugo nomination (for her third book!), Jemisin is not exactly unknown in the sci-fi community. In fact, we dubbed her 2010 debut “the must-read fantasy of the year.” But we think she deserves a much larger readership. The Killing Moon is the first in the Dreamblood trilogy, which creates a whole new desert world based on ancient cultures (think Egyptians). The second book, The Shadowed Sun, will be published in June. If you are looking for a touch of magic in your summer, this is your book.
KAREN THOMPSON WALKER
The Age of Miracles (Random House, June)
Every morning for three years, before leaving for her job as an editor at Simon & Schuster, Walker was typing away on her first novel. The result is a debut that has already been optioned for film and was the subject of major auctions on the US and UK. The Age of Miracles is the sensitively told story of Julia, who is just 11 years old when it becomes apparent that the world’s rotation is slowing. As the days—and nights—get longer, the world must decide how to cope. Juxtaposing this extreme situation with Julia’s discovery of her first love and other coming-of-age dilemmas makes for a compelling read. This one has YA crossover written all over it.
Equal of the Sun (Scribner, June)
Amirrezvani’s 2007 debut, The Blood of Flowers, was a word-of-mouth hit and ended up being longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her second novel, Equal of the Sun, is another ambitious, well-crafted historical tale set in her native Iran, featuring a memorable heroine. This time, the setting is the intrigue-filled 16th century Persian court (picture the Tudor court, times 10), where the Shah has died without naming an heir. The brilliant Princess Pari Khan (a real historical figure) knows more about the court than just about anyone else, and she and her eunuch friend Javaher dive into the power struggle. Fans of smart historical fiction should be on the lookout for this one.
Into the Darkest Corner (Harper, June)
Named the best book of 2011 by Amazon UK, where it was published last year, Elizabeth Haynes’ debut has been praised by the likes of Karin Slaughter, S.J. Watson and Chevy Stevens—and promises to be one of the biggest thrillers of the summer. A police intelligence analyst who started working on her book during National Novel Writing Month, Haynes writes about obsession, domestic violence and complicated personal relationships in Into the Darkest Corner. The story revolves around Catherine, a woman whose charismatic boyfriend turns violent. Years later, when she finally thinks she’s free of him, her living nightmare returns.
The Chaperone (Riverhead, June)
Kansas author Laura Moriarty’s reputation has been building slowly ever since the publication of her lyrical 2003 debut, The Center of Everything. But we think her fourth novel—with its of-the-moment 1920s setting and memorable portrayal of real-life silent film star Louise Brooks—could be a breakthrough hit.
Tigers in Red Weather (Little, Brown, July)
Klaussmann has perhaps the best literary pedigree of our women to watch out for: her great-great-great grandfather was Herman Melville. Her debut sounds a little bit like what The Great Gatsby would be if it were set in the era of “Mad Men,” and spans two decades of the lives of a wealthy family with a summer house where significant events take place. Klaussmann has worked as a journalist for The New York Times and has a BA in Creative Writing from Barnard College.
Goodbye for Now (Doubleday, August)
Three grad student friends are living together. One of them gets pregnant, and the others help raise the baby. Hardly the most electric premise for a debut, yet Frankel’s The Atlas of Love felt fresh, funny and true. So it will be exciting to see what Frankel, who lives in Seattle with her family, does with her second book, which has a much more original elevator pitch: What if you could reconstruct a virtual version of someone you’ve lost? In Goodbye for Now, software engineer Sam has done just that, as a favor to the woman he loves. But is love meant to last forever?