Top Debuts of 2014

Thousand_MirrorsSpinningHeartStringer

I’ve been reading the best books lists for the year, and although Electric Literature lobbies that 2014 was “the year of the debut,” I feel like the only four debut authors who are getting much attention are: Celeste Ng, Phil Klay, Matthew Thomas and Smith Henderson. And I am surprised that a number of the best of lists don’t feature any debuts at all. I know that not every book can be a “best” book, and this year was notable for how many stand out authors published books that are getting attention, the best lists include Marilynne Robinson, David Mitchell, Joshua Ferris and Lorrie Moore to name a few, but I can’t help thinking of all the debut novels I read this year that are not bubbling up.

Last week I wrote about Island of a Thousand Mirrors, which was one of my favorite novels of 2014. I thought the writing was beautiful and I enjoyed how Munaweera mixed genres, combining a multi-generational story, with an immigrant story and a war story. For my next post, I will write about Donal Ryan’s, The Spinning Heart, which got a lot of attention when it came out earlier this year in the United States and won the Guardian First Book Award in 2013, but I have not seen mentioned on any of the year end lists. I loved how he used multiple voices to tell a story and how he told a complex story of life in rural Ireland after the economic collapse in 156 pages.

But the book, which I think is the most underrated debut of the year is Anjan Sundarman’s, Stringer, a memoir set in Africa, an homage to Ryszard Kapuscinski, which tells the moving story about Sundarman’s attempt to be a stringer in the Congo in 2005.

Happy holiday reading and to a happy new year! And if you are looking for a list of top debut novels for the year, Kirkus Reviews has a nice list to explore.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Top Debuts of 2014

  1. Oscar Stern

    Did you find that there wasn’t a lot of debut novels that matched up to last year, or that the focus was more on established authors?

    • Good question. Last year felt like the Year of The Goldfinch. But in terms of debuts, I felt like different titles popped up on different lists. This year while some of the debuts got more attention than last year, for example Phil Klay won the National Book Award, it felt like the debuts that popped up were the same few titles.

  2. Thanks, Kate. I just bought ‘Island of a Thousand Mirrors’ to enjoy over the holidays and as a gift for my Jess too. Have a great holiday and thanks for your blog.

  3. I am a big fan of your recommended reading list! Thank you and Happy New Year! Emily

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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