We’re terrifically pleased to announce our Fall 2018 Discover Great New Writers selections—our third collection for 2018, another exciting mix of fiction, essays, memoir, and journalism from writers who aren’t yet household names, writers our booksellers believe we’ll continue to read for years to come.
How it works: Every week, a team of our booksellers from around the country meets to review submissions; we start with roughly 1,000 books each year and select fewer than 60 for the program. We root for all of the books and their authors, waiting for the bookseller who says, “this made the hair stand up on the back of my neck,” or “I missed my subway stop,” or even, “I couldn’t stop holding my breath as I read, and I gave myself the hiccups.”
What we’re looking for: In a word, WOW.
We’re looking for stories we can’t stop thinking about, that entertain us, whisk us away to unfamiliar places (real or imagined). Stories that show us who we are in the world. Stories that tattoo themselves onto our DNA. Stories packed with characters we’d like to hang with in real life and don’t want to leave behind, even when we don’t like them very much. Stories spun from vivid imagination, hard work, and marvelous prose. We’re looking for stories that pulse with life and ideas and unforgettable imagery. We’re looking for universal truths in someone else’s details. We’re looking for books that readers can’t wait to press into the hands of other readers with a simple admonition: You’ve got to read this now.
To check out other 2018 Discover picks, browse our now twenty-eight-year-old archive of past selections, or learn more about our annual Discover Awards, check out bn.com/discover.
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, by Imogen Hermes Gowar
This incredible debut reminded us of novels by Discover alums Sarah Waters (Fingersmith and The Little Stranger) and Michel Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White) and 2017 Discover pick The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry. In 1780s London, a well-to-do merchant finds his life upended in a story of wonder, obsession, and desire. P.S. Madeline Miller, bestselling author of Circe, is also a major fan.
The Lost Queen, by Signe Pike
We can’t get enough of epic historical sagas like The Half-Drowned King, Linnea Hartsuyker’s 2017 Discover pick set in Viking-era Norway, a mystical and violent world, and we love Signe Pike’s debut, a story of a lost queen of sixth-century Scotland, the twin of the man who inspired the legend of Merlin, just as much. (Luckily for us, The Lost Queen and The Half-Drowned King are both first in a series.)
The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris
There’s so much story packed in this deceptively slim novel. Vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful, this illuminating tale of hope and courage—based on the true story of a prisoner forced to tattoo other prisoners at Auschwitz—is a testament to the endurance of love and humanity. Fans of gripping WW2 fiction like The Boat Runner, by Devin Murphy, won’t want to miss this one.
The Waiter, by Matias Faldbakken
There are times we just want to curl up with a dreamy story about wonderful characters, and this novel by a Norwegian artist is a terrific place to start. We were reminded of The Elegance of the Hedgehog and A Gentleman in Moscow as we read this charming and thoughtful story of a middle-aged waiter whose routine at a centuries-old European restaurant is turned upside-down by an unexpected guest.
Family Trust, by Kathy Wang
What do we owe our families? Stanley Huang is dying of pancreatic cancer, and his family is about to learn what they’re worth. Set in Silicon Valley. this smart, sharp story of parenthood and marriage, status and ambition skewers tech culture while it asks readers to consider the true nature of inheritances—and reminded us of one of our recent favorites, bestselling 2016 Discover pick The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.
Essays, Memoir & Journalism
All the Colors We Will See, by Patrice Gopo
My family’s presence in Alaska was a mixture of flavors…Jamaican roots and an American life. Family and faith are the heart of this warm and beautifully written collection of essays about the complex interplay between what it means to be different—and what it means to belong—by an author who has called Alaska, South Africa, and the American South home.
All You Can Ever Know, by Nicole Chung
What happens when you stop believing your own family mythology? This unforgettable memoir starts with one woman’s search for her birth parents and becomes a universal story of identity, family, and home. Like Discover alums Leah Carroll, author of Down City, and Sarah Perry, author of After the Eclipse, Nicole Chung turns a painful past into powerful art. Bestselling author Celeste Ng (Little Fires Everywhere) is a fan, too.
American Prison, by Shane Bauer
A groundbreaking inside investigation into the private prison industry and the forces that drive it, told by a journalist who was legitimately hired under his own name with no background check to be a guard for $9 an hour. From the history of the industry to the treatment of prisoners to the ugly changes he saw in himself during his employment, this is a gripping story that cannot be ignored.
The Class, by Heather Won Tesoriero
The incredible true story of an unconventional class and a band of whiz kids. Like 2015 Discover pick Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren, The Class is as much about the people as it is the science; the caliber of the high schoolers’ work will amaze you, and you’ll be rooting for these unforgettable students and their teacher at every turn. (The book’s editor, sweetly, calls this book “Friday Night Lights with nerds.”)
Heartland, by Sarah Smarsh
A perfect companion to 2015 Discover pick Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, this is an eye-opening personal story of working-class poverty, and an uncompromising look at what it means to have less in a country that often confuses personal worth with net worth. “There’s not a false note…This is just what the world needs to hear,” says George Hodgman, bestselling author of another 2015 Discover pick, Bettyville.
Heavy, by Kiese Laymon
We can’t stop thinking about this deeply personal book from a fearless writer. This revelatory memoir not only exposes what a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a man, it also delivers a powerful story of truth, love, and freedom. Kiese’s fans include Discover alums Lacy Johnson (The Other Side, The Reckonings) and Mychal Denzel Smith (Invisible Man Got the Whole World Watching).
To Shake the Sleeping Self, by Jedidiah Jenkins
Have you ever wanted to quit your day gig and hit the open road? Jedidiah Jenkins landed his dream job, but still wasn’t happy. So he did what many people only fantasize about doing: he quit his job to travel, bicycling the 10,000 miles from Oregon to Patagonia. This astounding and unflinching story of real-life adventure and self-discovery is also an inspiring call to build a life to believe in.