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2012 Debut Novels

Best Reads from New Authors


It is always a risk to read a new author, but there is also something thrilling about debut novels. When I open a debut, there is always the possibility that this could be the beginning of a long and lovely relationship.

2012 has been a great year for books, and debuts are no exception. Here are some of the best novels from new authors for the year.

'In the Shadow of the Banyan' by Vaddey Ratner

In the Shadow of the Banyan
Simon & Schuster
Vaddey Ratner's personal story is remarkable -- she was 5 when Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia, suffered much, but eventually escaped to the U.S., where despite knowing no English she learned the language, graduated summa cum laude from Cornell, and is now a writer. Ratner could have written a memoir, but chose to write a novel about similar circumstances. That novel, In the Shadow of the Banyan, is definitely one of the big debuts of the year.

'The Yellow Birds' by Kevin Powers

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
Little, Brown
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers is a novel about the Iraq War, written by a veteran. It will draw readers into that war in a way news accounts never could. This could become a classic in the vein of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried.

'The Age of Miracles' by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Random House
The Age of Miracles is a coming of age story with a science fiction backdrop. The story is narrated by an eleven year old girl who is alive during "the slowing"-- a time when the earth's rotation starts slowing, which has major effects on life everywhere.

'Seating Arrangements' by Maggie Shipstead

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
Seating Arrangements has a cover and premise that mark it as beach reading, and while the coastal setting is certainly appropriate for the beach, Shipstead goes deeper than romance novels or chick lit in her debut. Seating Arrangements is the story of a Connecticut family gathered for the eldest daughter's wedding.
  • Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead was released in June 2012
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • 320 Pages
  • Read a complete review of Seating Arrangements

'Tigers in Red Weather' by Liza Klaussmann

Tigers in Red Weather
Little, Brown
Liza Klaussmann has gotten some attention for being Herman Melville's great-great-great granddaughter. Reviewers, however, insist that her novel, which starts in 1945 and takes place over 20 years, justifies the press. Tigers in Red Weather tells the story of a privileged family where loathing destroys love and a murder mystery on the beach near the family's beach house creates another threat to their dreams.
  • Tigers in Red Weather was released in July 2012
  • Publisher: Little Brown
  • 368 pages

'Tell the Wolves I'm Home' by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Dial Press
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt is a coming of age story about a 14-year-old girl whose one friend, her uncle, dies of AIDS. After his death, she begins to learn secrets about him that challenge her understanding of who he was and who she is.
  • Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt was released in June 2012
  • Publisher: Dial Press
  • 368 pages
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