The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, Joshua Braff
Braff has a myspace page, a blog, has published stories in national literary magazines, and is working on his second novel. The unforgettable, imperfect, and often funny Jacob Green narrates his coming of age in the 1970s. Jacob wants to be the perfect son his father expects in their Jewish suburb, but struggles with all that is imperfect about him, his family, and his life.
The Cloud Atlas, Liam Callanan
Callanan is a creative writing teacher in Washington, D.C. This atmospheric first novel is set in Alaska during World War II. Sergeant Louis Belk, an 18-year-old bomb defuser, is sent on a mysterious mission that takes him across the Alaskan tundra. Callanan blends Eskimo folklore, and an unusual love story in this historical novel.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Former editor and teacher Clarke worked on her first novel for the better part of ten years. Her fascination for magicians may have precipitated the novel, but the historic detail and literary allusions are based on exhaustive research. Magician Norrell is reclusive and anti-social, but ambitions prompt him to make a pact with a mysterious fairy king. He also takes a pupil, the charming Jonathan Strange. This unusual novel is inventive and suspenseful.
The Hundredth Man, Jack Kerley
Kerley spent most of his adult life in the advertising world. Mobile, Alabama is the setting of this thriller. Police detective Carson Ryder and veteran cop Harry Nautilus investigate a bizarre and gruesome crime. They get help from an unusual source – criminals in Ryders’ family.
Tonight I Said Goodbye, Michael Koryta
Only 21 years old when he published this debut novel, Koryta got lots of attention and was nominated for a number of awards. In Tonight, Koryta introduces readers to Cleveland, Ohio private investigator Lincoln Perry. Perry is hired by grieving John Weston to investigate the death of his son, Wayne, and the disappearance of Wayne’s wife and daughter.
Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff (Jeffry P.) Lindsay
Not for the faint of heart, this debut novel features serial killer Dexter, who also happens to be a Miami-Dade Police blood splatter analyst. A bit gruesome, indeed, but this incredibly inventive debut will keep the CSI enthusiasts turning the pages and shaking their heads in disbelief.
The Memory of Running, Ron McLarty
McLarty is well known to audiobook fans for his lively renditions. He is also a playwright and an actor. This novel chronicles the transformation of Smithy Ide, an overweight forty-something deadbeat. When Smithy suffers family tragedy, he decides to embark on a cross-country bicycle trip in search of his long-lost sister.
The Blackbird Papers, Ian Smith
Dr. Ian Smith is perhaps better known as a medical correspondent and columnist. His page-turning fiction debut is a crime thriller. Dartmouth professor and Nobel Prize winner Wilson Bledsoe is found dead. A number of clues at the scene prompt authorities to believe the crime is racially motivated. But Bledsoe’s brother, FBI agent Sterling Bledsoe, is not convinced.
The Clovis Incident, Pari Noskin Taichert
Taichert, a freelance journalist, introduces us to Sasha Solomon, an Albuquerque public relations executive who finds herself out of a job and struggling with more than a few personal issues. When she decides to bid on a project for the Clovis, New Mexico Chamber of Commerce, she finds herself involved in a murder mystery.
Good Grief, Lolly Winston
Freelance journalist Winston has published in magazines such as Redbook and Family Circle. In her debut novel, Winston tells the story of thirty-something Sophie Stanton, who is trying to appear a graceful, composed widow working through her grief. In fact, her life is falling apart. Sophie’s journey is realistic and heartbreaking while hopeful and humorous.
Dear Zoe, Philip Beard
Writer and attorney Philip Beard explores family loss. September 11, 2001 was the day Tess DeNunzio’s 3-year-old sister Zoe was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Tess, as if writing a letter to Zoe, relates the true events, her family’s tragic pain, and Tess’s own struggle to come to terms with what she has done.
A Long Stay in a Distant Land, Chieh Chieng
Chieng graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with a degree in creative writing. His first novel explores the complexities of the fictional Chinese-American Lum family. For three generations the Lums have been plagued by disaster. Louis, the son of the latest casualty, sets out to discover his family and travels to Hong Kong to find this long-lost uncle.
26a, Diana Evans
Journalist, art critic, and short story author, Evans explores in her debut novel the fantasy world created by twins Georgia and Bessi Hunter. While their mother pines for her native Nigeria, becoming more and more remote, and their English father seeks comfort in alcohol, the girls retreat from reality in an attic room.
Sudden Country, Karen Fisher
Former teacher, organic farmer, and overall adventuress, Karen Fisher, worked on her first novel over a number of years. The novel is based on the journey west made by Fisher’s ancestors. Lucy Mitchell reluctantly sets off with her family on the Oregon Trail. Fisher tells of both the difficult journey and the wondrous beauty of the American West.
Immoral, Brian Freeman
Marketing executive and business writer Freeman won lavish praise for this debut. In this thriller, a serial killer is murdering teenage girls in Duluth, Minnesota and Lieutenant Jonathan Stride is under a lot of pressure the catch the killer.
Dinner with a Perfect Stranger: An Invitation Worth Considering,
Gregory worked in the world of business before returning to school to study religion. In his debut novel, businessman Nick Cominsky is trying to decide whether or not to accept a dinner invitation from Jesus of Nazareth.
The Widow of the South, Robert Hicks
The restoration of the historic Carnton plantation prompted Hicks, whose background is in the music industry, to write this debut novel. Based on the very real and tragic Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, the novel tells of Carrie McGavock, the “Widow of the South,” of her humanity in caring for the wounded, the dead, and the remains of the dead.
Beasts of No Nation, Uzodinma Iweala
Iweala was born in Washington, D.C., educated at Harvard, and won many literary prizes before penning this debut novel. The story is narrated by the boy Agu. He tells of his life with militants in his African nation, his grief over civil war, the violent death of his father, and of the unspeakable acts he endures and commits on behalf of his commander.
The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
Kostova, a graduate of Yale and the University of Michigan MFA program, worked on her debut novel over the course of ten years. It’s a marvelous mystery, historical thriller, adventure story, family drama, and travelogue. It’s a story within a story which begins with a teenager’s curiosity about a stack of old letters.
Cold Skin, Albert Sánchez Piñol
2005 marks the English translation of this debut novel, first published in Catalan in 2002. Sánchez is an anthropologist and non-fiction writer. Set in post-World War I in the Antarctic, this literate and troubling novel relates events on a remote island.
Just in case you missed these notable debuts from 2003:
Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A native of Nigeria, Adichie began her first novel as a student at Eastern Connecticut State University. She writes of the pain and turmoil of growing up in her homeland. The narrator is a teenager who reveals the secrets hidden in her sheltered and luxurious home. Daughter to a wealthy man who gives every appearance of an upstanding and generous community leader, Kambili reveals in prose the horrors he inflicts on her, brother Jaja, and their mother.
The Known World, Edward P. Jones
Teacher and author Jones takes us to a place in history largely forgotten. The setting of his debut novel is an antebellum Virginia plantation. It is owned by free black man Henry Townsend and run by his black slaves. This absorbing historical novel explores this anomaly and the complexities of the human soul.
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
Niffenegger is a professor, author, and visual artist from the Chicago area. Though the premise of her debut makes it seem like science fiction, it is truly a love story. Librarian Henry has Chrono-Displacement Disorder, which causes him to go back and forth in time. Without warning Henry slips away from the present, and his beautiful wife Clare, into the past or future.
Monkeewrench, P.J. Tracy
P.J. Tracy is the pseudonym for a mother-daughter writing team, and this is their debut thriller. Grace MacBride and her Monkeewrench coworkers have created a very popular video game called Serial Killer Detective. Things are looking bright for the company until a serial killer begins to use techniques described in the game.
For more information about debut novelists and recommended fiction,
contact Readers Services
by email: readersvcs
by phone: (630) 584-0076, ext. 214
just drop in!