Most Buzzed About Debuts of 2021 (So Far)

As booksellers, we are always happy to welcome fresh new voices to the literary landscape. With 2020 now (FINALLY!) behind us, we can look forward to a fresh start in 2021. To help you start the new year off right, here’s a roundup of ten highly-anticipated debuts. Add these to your TBR today!

The Prophets 
Robert Jones, Jr. 

Son of Baldwin creator Robert Jones, Jr.’s debut novel The Prophets is a stunning, lyrical novel about the love between two enslaved young men on a plantation in Mississippi. This queer love story set against the horrific backdrop of slavery is masterful, at times painful to read, and ultimately, moving.

The Liar’s Dictionary 
Eley Williams

Mountweazel n. the phenomenon of false entries within dictionaries and works of reference. Often used as a safeguard against copyright infringement.

The Liar’s Dictionary is the story of an eccentric Victorian lexicographer who inserts false entries into a dictionary as a way of asserting his artistic freedom and a young, overworked intern tasked with digitizing the dictionary. This clever, laugh-out-loud funny debut novel is the perfect one-sitting read for a cold January afternoon.

The Wife Upstairs 
Rachel Hawkins

A modern Jane Eyre retelling set in Alabama? Yes, please! New to Birmingham, Jane’s luck seems to change when she meets the recently widowed Eddie Rochester. Will Jane ever live up to the legacy of his late wife Bea? Will she finally get her happy ending? Megan Miranda, author of The Last House Guest calls this electric debut a “sharp, fresh twist on a classic … a darkly funny, suspenseful story of murder, ambition, and love. Creepy and fast-paced.”

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House 
Cherie Jones

Told from multiple points of view, this captivating novel highlights the disparities and complex relationships between the rich tourists in Barbados and poor locals who struggle with crime, violence, and grief in a tropical paradise. “This book unfolds around the reader like ripples in water, it offers an unflinching vision of what it means to have a body and to fight to protect that body, it demands attention.”—Daisy Johnson, author of Sisters

The Witch’s Heart 
Genevieve Gornichec

Mythological retellings are all the rage and The Witch’s Heart is the latest new addition. In this reimagined Norse myth, banished witch Angrboda survived a burning and now lives in the woods. Her journey is a heartbreaking, epic and beautiful tribute to the power of love and hope.

The Bad Muslim Discount 
Syed M. Masood

The Bad Muslim Discount is an irreverent, timely and comic coming-of-age novel about two very different families, arranged marriages, Muslim identity and being true to yourself. “One of the bravest and most eye-opening novels of the year. Masood is a whiz at characters and knows the way the world works inside out. A future classic.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of Lake Success

The Lost Apothecary 
Sarah Penner

Taking us from 18th century London to the present day, this is the story of an apothecary who creates poisons for women to use on men who have wronged them. It is dark and atmospheric and a great blend of mystery, adventure, suspense and ultimately a woman’s search for self-discovery. I sat down to read this one Saturday afternoon and did not look up until I had turned the last page.

Jackie Polzin

This charming little novel follows our narrator as she attempts to keep her four chickens alive over the course of a year. Full of insight about love and marriage, grief and loss, and joy and wisdom. “The most vibrant and compelling slice of life … it’s generous, original, and witty, an absolute treasure of a novel.” —Claire Lombardo, author of The Most Fun We Ever Had 

Body of Stars 
Laura Maylene Walter

Perfect for fans of Vox and The Power, this is a powerful novel about womanhood and toxic masculinity. It is a story about women when they are stripped of choices — and what happens when they begin to fight back. “A thought-provoking exploration of fate and forced binaries, this is a book that lingers.”—Erika Swyler, author of The Book of Speculation

Of Women and Salt 
Gabriela Garcia

Beautiful and tragic, Of Women and Salt follows five generations of women in Cuba, Mexico and Miami. A story about immigration, mothers and daughters and the choices women make for their families.  “Gabriela Garcia captures the lives of Cuban women in a world to which they refuse to surrender, and she does so with precision and generosity and beauty.” —Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist 

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