Thursday, October 15, 2009

Top 10 First Novels of 2009

I never hesitate to tell anyone that debut novels are some of my favorite books! The Booklist article I have quotes below says it best so I'll only add that I love to try the books just for that oftentimes rough hewn feel. Rarely does an author come right out the gate with something approaching perfection; the exception that immediately comes to mind is Khaled Hosseini's Kite Runner. Do you remember the first time you read that book?

I don't require perfection. In fact, too much perfection puts you in danger of running into flat, one-dimensional characters. Your imagination needs some rough edges to catch itself on.

Make your next choice a debut novel and see where it takes you!

From the Booklist website:

Readers pick up a first novel with both excitement and trepidation. An untried author is always a reader’s gamble. But pick up the following first novels, all reviewed in Booklist over the past year, with no trepidation, only excitement.

Dream House by Valerie Laken
Laken is masterful at character construction as she explores issues of race and class.

A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff
This novel provides a pitch-perfect portrait of the generation that came of age in the 1990's.

Grace Hammer by Sara Stockbridge
Stockbridge deftly captures the mood of Dickensian London in this gripping debut.

The Invisible Mountain by Carolina De Robertis
Words, so beautifully employed by this author, seem inadequate to convey the essence of this twentieth-century Uruguayan woman-center family saga.

In lithe, lyracal prose, the author evokes the lush language of the West Indies and the modest lives lived at the mercy of fate.

Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato
Lodato indelibly captures the fragile vulnerability and fearless bravado of adolescence.

Miles From Nowhere by Anmi Mun
There is nothing simplistic or sensationalized here as Mun, a writer of gravitas, portrays the dispossessed and the cast out.

The Moon Opera by Be Feiyu
At once a sad and lovely story, this slender novel on a rather narrow topic - the Peking Opera - nevertheless resonates with a clear, crystalline tone.

Precious by Sandra Novack
Trouble simmers beneath the surface of a bucolic Pennsylvania town in Novack's dramatic, elegantly rendered debut.

Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell
The author's screenwriting skills serve her well in this remarkable portrait of a Ukrainian farming family in Alberta during the late 1930's.

To this list I'll add a couple of my favorites of the last few years:

The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Poison Study by Maria Snyder

Black Ships by Jo Graham

Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett

Alabama Moon by Watt Key

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell

I'd better stop there or I'll be here all night.

*Have you read any of these yet? Do you have a favorite debut novel?*

Happy reading!

1 comment:

Katie said...

My favorite debut novel was "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie"
FaNtAsTiC story :)
katie m.