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The Debuts of Lockdown

Posted on 13th May 2020 by Mark Skinner

Under normal circumstances our bookshops would be piled high with great novels from debut authors, whilst events and signings would put their names on every booklover's lips. To ensure that these fantastic works are not forgotten, we have compiled a list of the very best fiction from exciting new voices published during lockdown. So go on, take a chance on a debut - we promise you won't regret it.     

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Psychologically astute and dryly funny, Exciting Times delivers an enthralling dissection of love, commitment, power and privilege in the international circles of contemporary Hong Kong.
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A gloriously gothic extravaganza, perfect for fans of Sarah Perry and Bridget Collins, Healey’s darkly atmospheric tale of a wartime menagerie haunting the corridors of the eponymous stately home is a masterclass in slow-burning tension.

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£12.99
Paperback
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Sparkling and utterly original, If I Had Your Face provides a surgical overview of the complex social hierarchies and the absurd beauty standards in modern day Seoul, through the parallel stories of four young women.

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Set in the afterglow of the great American Gold Rush, Zhang’s haunting and heart-breaking debut follows the brutal journey of two immigrant teenage girls after the unexpected death of their sole parent.
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A fearless meditation on race, class, religion, freedom and sexuality, Mendez’s debut maps the journey of a young Black gay man with a Jehovah’s Witness upbringing, as he makes a fresh start in London.
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The debut novel from the author of The Sober Diaries beautifully balances humour with heart-break, and sincerity with mischief. The Authenticity Project is a warm and uplifting story about friendship, the importance of human connection and the power of truth.
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A soaring debut set in London in the aftermath of the Second World War, This Lovely City charts the course of a jazz musician newly arrived in London on the Empire Windrush, and the opportunity, excitement, prejudice and love he finds in the dizzying metropolis.
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Tackling the contentious issue of sexual abuse with unflinching enquiry and emotional complexity, My Dark Vanessa interrogates the blurred lines between consent and manipulation and how both memory and context can shift alarmingly over time. Perfect for fans of Lisa Taddeo’s groundbreaking Three Women, My Dark Vanessa is disturbing and unputdownable.

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A complex coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of the Iranian coup of 1953, Hozar’s debut brilliantly evokes the Middle East at a time of tumult and intrigue.
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£16.99
Hardback
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A debut novel from Robert Webb, the bestselling author of How Not to Be a Boy. Come Again is the hilarious, brilliantly-plotted story of Kate who wakes up one day as her eighteen-year-old self, about to fall in love with her (now actually deceased) husband all over again. Wildly funny, frank and clever, Come Again is a wonderful feat of imagination, guaranteed to delight and move in equal measure.

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In her crisp, chilling and original debut, Wrobel serves up a twisted mother-daughter relationship in this expertly plotted, sensational tale of obsession, forgiveness and revenge. Beautifully written and endlessly haunting, The Recovery of Rose Gold announces the arrival of a new star in the genre.

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Fierce, eye-opening and unforgettable, this stunning debut from Nigerian Abi Dare is a story about shaping a self under exceptionally difficult circumstances. Offering empowerment for all those who struggle to be heard, The Girl with a Louding Voice is a paean to the might of words and the courage to dream.

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A searing story of teenage gangs, dead end towns and the shifting threat of latent violence, The Young Team is as visceral and important as fiction gets.

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With a remarkable sense of authenticity, Afia Atakora’s exquisite debut lights up an unfamiliar corner of American Civil War history, reimagining life on a Southern plantation in the Reconstruction-era.
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Ames’s beautifully intricate and heart-breaking debut explores life-defining turning points and moral grey areas faced by four female friends. Filled with empathy and exquisite characters, The Other’s Gold exposes how malleable the limits of love and forgiveness can be.
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This luminous debut from Strong-Washburn mixes ancient myth and magic with real contemporary issues, as it tracks the progress of a poor Hawaiian family through the harsh realities of the modern United States.
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Comments

Paul Madge

I recommend the new novel, Cherry Slice by Jennifer Stone. It’s a laugh out loud tonic for these times! View more

Paul Madge
1st June 2020
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Penyth

Great list! Can I be so cheeky as to add my own debut novel to the list? My Perfect Sister by Penny Batchelor is a domestic noir thriller: How can Annie live up to the memory of a missing sister she can barely remember? When she returns to her childhood home age 30 she has to confront the dark secrets it holds, but will she ever find out what happened back in 1989?

My Perfect Sister is published already in ebook and the paperback is out on 18th June. The publisher is RedDoor Press. Small publishers often struggle to compete with the big publishers in chain book stores. View more

Penyth
1st June 2020
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Helen Bader

I've read My Perfect Sister and I loved it! One of those gripping books where you just have to read one more chapter...and then you look at the clock and it's 1.30am and you only have a few more pages left! Intriguing plot with a satisfying twist at the end :) Highly recommended - 5*

Helen Bader
3rd June 2020
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David Adams

They all look promising, I just wish my debut sci-fi published a week before lockdown was on the list!
(That is Fighting the Machines - Book 1 - Escape) View more

David Adams
24th May 2020
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Richard Smith

Good to read a debut novel - and may I add to it: 'Homeward Bound' by Richard Smith. 'If this were a song, I'd play it every day' and 'a plea for all to curl up with a hot drink and read this gorgeous hug of a book!' are from two reviewers on NetGalley - and similar 5* ratings on this Waterstones site, where it can be also bought. View more

Richard Smith
24th May 2020
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