The other day I was listening to Debutiful, a podcast that features debut authors, and couldn’t help but admire the incredible number of debuts that came out in 2020. I’ve been following Debutiful since they increased their debut coverage in the wake of all of the cancelled books tours, which has been incredibly devastating, particularly to debut authors.
Through this podcast, I have discovered so many incredible debut novels that I have fallen in love with bunkered down in my house social distancing. I can’t recommend these titles enough, and you can support these debut authors by checking out their incredible audiobooks!
How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang, Narrated by Catherine Ho and Joel de la Fuente
During the California Gold Rush, two Asian American orphans carry the body of their deceased father in search of an appropriate resting place for him. Through the course of the story, we jump back and forth in time, learning more about the two children’s parents and their family history.
Bestiary by K-Ming Chang, Narrated by Catherine Ho, Nancy Wu, and Ren Hanami
Over the course of three generations of Taiwanese women, Bestiary tells a fabulous story filled with mysterious happenings and female resilience. In gorgeous prose, Chang uses a combination of folklore and brilliant storytelling to write this stellar debut novel.
Crooked Hallelujah by Kelly Jo Ford, Narrated by Tanis Parenteau
Justine, a biracial Cherokee woman, finds herself on her own, trying to raise her daughter as a single mom. As she navigates single motherhood, Justine and her daughter move to Texas, and she feels unmoored, separated from her family and friends. Throughout the novel, Justine is forced to come into her own and come to terms with her own identity.
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat, Narrated by Zehra Jane Naqvi
This novel features a queer Palestinian American woman who has just moved in with her first girlfriend. She soon begins a spiral of destructive behaviors, and finds herself in a treatment center diagnosed with “love addiction.”
Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson, Narrated by Charlie Thurston
A fabulist story about two queer boys in the deep South, Boys of Alabama is the high school story that is missing from your life. Max meets Pan, and the two immediately click, becoming consumed with each other, for better or for worse.
Godshot by Chelsea Bieker, Narrated by Lauren Ezzo
Set in the town of Peaches, California, teenage protagonist Lacey May finds herself abandoned in a dilapidated commune. After her mother leaves her, she moves in with her grandma and becomes increasingly disillusioned by the male leaders of her community.
Real Life by Brandon Taylor, Narrated by Kevin R. Free
Wallace is enrolled in a PhD program at a Midwestern university where he tries to make a life for himself as a queer Black man. Taking place over just a few days, this novel tells the story of a key point in Wallace’s life that presents him with some facts he can’t shy away from, and he’s forced to make a decision that may change his entire future.
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara, Narrated by Indira Varma, Himesh Patel, and Antonio Aakeel
In a vast Indian city, a group of kids decide to search for their missing friend. As they begin searching for clues, more and more kids begin to disappear. What begins as a quest to find one friend turns into something much bigger than they ever imagined.
Lakewood by Megan Giddings, Narrated by Adenrele Ojo
Part horror, part thriller, and part entirely unique, Lakewood features Lena Johnson, a Black woman who starts a new job in a remote town. As the disturbing details of her job are revealed, Lena tries to shove her suspicions under the rug for the sake of earning good money for her family. Hold on for a suspenseful story that will have you on the edge of your seat.
For even more debut novels, be sure to check out Debutiful!