Become a fan from the very beginning, as these six outstanding new novelists make their debuts with deeply emotional narratives peopled with tremendous characters that will leave you aching for more.
IF YOU LEAVE ME
By Crystal Hana Kim
First line: “Kyunghwan and I met where the farm fields ended and our refugee village began.”
The book: In war-torn Korea, Haemi and Kyunghwan find love in a refugee village, but honor and duty take precedence when a wealthy man begins courting the spirited Haemi.
The author: Winner of the PEN America’s Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, Crystal Hana Kim is a contributing editor for Apogee Journal and lives in Brooklyn.
Read it for: Lyrical prose that offers an unflinching look at motherhood and the aftermath of American imperialism.
By Zoje Stage
For fans of: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver and movies like The Babadook, The Bad Seed and The Ring.
First line: “Maybe the machine could see the words she never spoke.”
The book: Upscale parents grapple with an inexplicable and unremitting evil—in the form of their 7-year-old daughter.
The author: Zoje Stage is a former filmmaker and screenwriter who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Read it for: One more book to talk you out of procreating.
FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE
By Ingrid Rojas Contreras
First line: “She sits in a plastic chair in front of a brick wall, slouching.”
The book: Two coming-of-age stories—that of rich city girl Chula and her maid, Petrona—overlap during Colombia’s violent 1990s.
The author: A Bogotá native, Ingrid Rojas Contreras and her family fled to Los Angeles when she was 14. She now writes for HuffPost and NPR, and teaches writing to immigrant high schoolers in San Francisco.
Read it for: A first-hand glimpse into the plight of vulnerable Colombian children in the recent past.
THE SHORTEST WAY HOME
By Miriam Parker
First line: “I would have never predicted that a winery could change my life.”
The book: A business school graduate lands a coveted New York investment job, but her heart is set on a path less traveled (quite literally) in the wine country.
The author: Miriam Parker has worked in publishing for more than 17 years and is currently an associate publisher at Ecco. She lives in Brooklyn with her dog, Leopold Bloom.
Read it for: The love of wine, and the inspiring tale of taking chances and dreaming of a life more rewarding than a nine-to-five job.
LET ME BE LIKE WATER
By S.K. Perry
First line: “I was sitting on a bench at the beach when Frank told me I’d dropped my keys.”
The book: After the death of her boyfriend, 20-something Holly finds solitude and hope at the seaside in Brighton, in particular through a new friendship with an elderly, retired magician.
The author: The author of the poetry collection Curious Hands: 24 Hours in Soho, S.K. Perry was long-listed for London’s youth poet laureate in 2013.
Read it for: A sense of comfort, and for a reading experience as soothing and cathartic as ocean waves lapping at your toes.
By David Chariandy
First line: “Once he showed me his place in the sky.”
The book: The lives of two Canadian brothers are forever changed after a violent shooting draws additional police scrutiny to their neighborhood.
The author: David Chariandy grew up in the same Toronto public housing as the family in Brother. He currently teaches English at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He has been previously published in his native Canada (the critically acclaimed novel Soucouyant), but this is his first novel to be published in the United States.
Read it for: A poignant and timely look at community, family and race in a setting that will be new to many American readers.
Kim photo credit Nina Subin.
Stage photo credit Gabrianna Dacko.
Contreras photo credit Jeremiah Barber.
Parker photo credit Shannon Carpenter.
Perry photo credit Naomi Woddis.
Chariandy photo credit Joy von Tiedemann.