Debut novels were not on my radar pre-blog. I’d pick up new books, but prior to immersing myself in this lovely bookish community I had no concept of the importance of an author’s first book or the waves which a particularly impressive debut could cause in the publishing world.
This year has again seen a strong field of debut books. Indeed a whole reading year could be dedicated solely to discovering new writers.
I’ve had the pleasure of reading some incredible books this year, and these debut novels are genuinely among my favourites of 2018.
The authors of these books will no doubt continue to impress with their writing in years to come, so if you’ve not already read these stunning debuts make sure you tackle them in the new year.
Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee
Eggshell Skull is a book which I will not stop pushing on people. Lee is an incredible writer and speaker, and I’m absolutely guilty of fangirling over every post she puts on social media.
Eggshell Skull is the book every person needs to read. In it, Lee reflects on her time as a Judge’s Associate and the long, violating road to seek justice in her own historical abuse case.
In the wake of the #Metoo movement, Eggshell Skull is fierce reminder that the sexism that has allowed this culture to flourish is so ingrained in our society that speaking out is just the first step in a punishing journey to justice.
Neverland by Margot McGovern
Neverland was one of my most anticipated books of the year, owing to McGovern’s agent Danielle Binks who has long been one of the people I most admire in the Australian book community.
There was no disappointment: Neverland was a gorgeous and thrilling exploration of mental health with the most sumptuous writing.
Much like its inspiration, Neverland has darkness around the edges like storm clouds rolling in from the distance. The demons of Kit’s past threaten to tumble down with a thunder crack, but she is determined to keep them at bay.
Neverland is a beautiful, lyrical novel exploring mental health with sensitivity and compassion. To top it off, McGovern is a genuinely lovely person and such a joy to follow online.
Listen to Margot McGovern discuss writing Neverland and publishing her debut on Better Words
No Country Woman by Zoya Patel
No Country Woman was the book I learned most from in 2018, pushing me from the boundaries of my privilege.
I’m yet to write my review, mainly because I’d like to re-read some of my favourite bits, but I found No Country Woman a beautiful, uplifting and humorous discussion of migration and finding our place in the world.
Patel is Fijian-Indian-Australian, and in her debut memoir explores the ways in which each of these cultures leaves her feeling without place, without country.
In No Country Woman, Patel considers how her migrant experience has shaped her religious, feminist and ethical belief, as well as the way we all share various elements of privilege.
Listen to Zoya Patel discuss No Country Woman, feminism and economic inequality in our chat on Better Words.
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The Lido by Libby Page
I’ll be sharing a discussion based on The Lido in coming weeks, but for now all I can really say is that this is exactly my kind of slow contemporary read.
It’s such a gorgeous exploration of several lives and the way they intersect through one community facility: the local pool. Page does a beautiful job of drawing you in to the lives of everyday people in a way which will appeal to anyone who enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
The Lido is one of those books where the writing, the characters completely outshine any plot and, to be quite honest, those are my favourite novels to read.
The Lace Weaver by Lauren Chater
Chater’s debut is a gorgeous, thoroughly researched yet utterly compelling historical fiction exploring a part of the Second World War I’d never heard of before.
The Lace Weaver follows the Soviet occupation of Estonia through two young women eager to protect their families and their history. It’s one of the best historical fiction novels I’ve read, both delightful and heartbreaking.
In this, Chater weaves words together with the same love and tenderness of the Estonian shawls central to the novel. The Lace Weaver brings to life Kati and Lydia’s stories and sheds light on a traumatic time hidden in the folds of history.
Listen to Lauren Chater discuss The Lace Weaver, Estonian history and her love of book-inspired baking on Better Words.