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February 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 First Novels
Bedrock Faith. By Eric Charles May. 2014. Akashic, paper, $16.95 (9781617751967).
In May’s vivid, suspenseful, funny, compassionate and epiphanic first novel, the decorous Mrs. Motley, a retired librarian, along with her close-knit, gossipy Chicago South Side community, dreads the return of the notorious Stew Pot Reeves.
Everything I Never Told You. By Celeste Ng. 2014. Penguin, $26.95 (9781594205712).
Set in Ohio in the early 1980s, Ng’s thrilling, emotionally complex debut novel about the tragic fate of teenager Lydia Lee, daughter of a Chinese American professor father and a white, frustrated stay-at-home mom, captures conflicts between cultures and generations.
The Land of Steady Habits. By Ted Thompson. 2014. Little, Brown, $25 (9780316186568); e-book, $12.99 (9780316215831).
Financier Anders Hill has it all, but he seems intent on blowing up his carefully constructed and conspicuously successful life in Thompson’s assured, scathing, heartbreaking, yet funny and redemptive first novel of midlife angst and grievous societal failures.
The Last Days of California. By Mary Miller. 2014. Norton/Liveright, $24.95 (9780871405883).
In her supersmart debut novel, Miller delivers a deadpan yet biting social critique while portraying a fresh and funny protagonist, young teen Jess Metcalf, who is traveling cross-country with her family in preparation for the Rapture.
A Man Called Ove. By Fredrik Backman. 2014. Atria, $26 (978147638017).
Misanthropic widower Ove has resolved to join his wife in the next world, but instead finds himself caught up in the lives of neighbors, an old friend, and a stray cat in Swedish blogger Backman’s charming debut.
Marshlands. By Matthew Olshan. 2014. Farrar, $23 (9780374199395).
Gus is broken and disfigured after years in (presumably American) captivity following the occupation of his adopted homeland and the draining of the marshes that housed his people, a situation mirroring, it seems, the U.S.’ military involvement in Iraq, a framework within which Olshan delves deeply into the complexities of tribalism.
Steal the North. By Heather Brittain Bergstrom. 2014. Viking, $27.95 (9780670786183).
Bergstrom’s magnetic debut is a perceptive and suspenseful love story about two mismatched teens, Emmy, whose mother became estranged from her family after being disowned by her fundamentalist father, and Reuben, a Native American who lives next door to Emmy’s newly discovered aunt.
Three Bargains. By Tania Malik. 2014. Norton, $25.95 (9780393063400).
Malik’s debut, set in early 1980s India, tells the tale of young Madan, who is chosen as a protégé by a powerful factory owner until things go brutally wrong, making for an absorbing bildungsroman and multifaceted tribute to the enduring bonds of family, blood or otherwise.
The Transcriptionist. By Amy Rowland. 2014. Algonquin, $24.95 (9781616202545).
Rowland imagines the predicament of the last newspaper transcriptionist in America in her strange, mesmerizing novel about language, literature, isolation, ethics, technology, the decline of newspapers, and the subsequent loss of humanity.
Your Face in Mine. By Jess Row. 2014. Riverhead, $27.95 (9781594488344).
In Row’s disquieting near-future medical tale, a Jewish musician is transformed into a wealthy African American entrepreneur, thanks to “racial reassignment surgery,” igniting a first novel that boldly takes on questions of race and identity.
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