Apparently, I’m throwing out all the rules and fourteen favorites wasn’t enough for 2015! I’m a rebel, like that. Actually, I’m as surprised as you might be, but when I started looking back at my favorites and saw how many of them were debut authors I decided they needed a post of their own. I hadn’t thought about it, but I read a lot of debut authors. A lot of GREAT debut authors. What is best is that each of these books is so different from the others. They went from contemporary American life to Vietnam during the fall of Saigon to Nigeria in the 1970s and took me from humorous horror to a survivalist father who disappears with his daughter. Magical, astonishing reading. You’ve never heard of these authors before, but you’ll be hearing from them again.
- Our Endless Numbered Days is a stunner. Peggy loves her father so when he tells her they need to go away to prepare for the end of the world she believes him. For over a decade they live in a tiny shack hidden in the woods until Peggy discovers the truth.
- The Sympathizer: An unnamed narrator working for a South Vietnamese general as a spy for the Communists. After the fall of Saigon his time in America leads to his capture when he returns home. His story is relayed through the ‘confession’ he is forced to write for his captors. And we watch as this drives him to the edge of his sanity.
- The Library at Mount Char is hands down, bar-none, the most innovative novel I’ve ever read. Another world set in the midst of our own and populated with some thoroughly bizarre and terrifying people. After finishing this, I wanted to start it all over again.
- Did You Ever Have a Family is a small story of what came before and what’s left after a family tragedy. Quiet and surprising.
- Life from Scratch: don’t be shocked, this is a memoir and the only non-fiction on my list (sorry, I don’t read that much of it!). Sasha Martin’s childhood reads like fiction and while suffused with pain ultimately becomes the foundation for her life’s passion.
- Under the Udala Trees is set in Nigeria in the 1970s when a girl comes of age and realizes she is in love with another young woman in a time and place where such feelings can lead to death.