A new decade calls for new voices. Thankfully, there’s plenty of fresh talent to stock your shelves with, from the eagerly anticipated My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, to Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud.
It’s exciting when your favourite authors announce new books, but there’s a special kind of buzz around a hotly tipped debut novel. Knowing that you’re about to discover the work of someone new, wondering what to expect, and, above all else, debating whether the writer can live up to the hype.
As ever, there’s rarely smoke without fire and these six debut novelists are well worth looking forward to and reading throughout 2020. A new year, a new decade, and some unmissable new material.
These are Stylist’s top picks to read this coming year, and they’re all available to pre-order now.
Exciting Times(£14.99, W&N), out 16 April
Based in Hong Kong, this sharp, witty debut from Irish author Dolan explores a love triangle as newly arrived English teacher Ava finds herself torn between the different worlds offered by non-committal banker Julian and alluring lawyer Edith. An extract ran in literary magazine The Stinging Fly, picked by then-editor Sally Rooney.
Love after Love(£14.99, Faber), out 2 April
In this deeply affecting tale from BBC Short Story winner Persaud, an unconventional family unit in Trinidad – spirited Betty, her quiet son Solo and their charismatic lodger Mr Chetan – implodes when Solo overhears a devastating truth one evening. With brilliantly drawn characters, this book will stay with you long after the last page.
The Girl with the Louding Voice(£12.99, Sceptre), out 5 March
In a bid for freedom, 14-year-old Adunni flees an arranged marriage to a local elder only to get sucked into working as a maid for a wealthy Lagos family. But unlike so many others forced into a life of servitude in modern-day Nigeria, Adunni will not be silenced. This is the story of how she learns to speak up.
KATE ELIZABETH RUSSELL
My Dark Vanessa(£12.99, 4th Estate), out 31 March
Destined to spark many a heated book club debate, My Dark Vanessa raises vital questions about agency and consent as a woman in her 30s comes to the dawning realisation that a teenage affair with her English teacher might not have been the great love story she once thought it was.
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line(£14.99, Vintage), out 30 January
Shocked by the statistic that 180 children disappear in India every day, journalist Anappara turned her hand to fiction, crafting a charming yet heartbreaking novel about a group of children – the Djinn Patrol – determined to find their missing classmate.
The Illness Lesson(£12.99, Doubleday), out 6 February
Set in 1871 in a Massachusetts girls’ school, where one by one the students start to experience strange symptoms (fainting, rashes, verbal tics), this haunting novel blends historical fiction with a timely comment on women’s bodies and minds, and those who think they can control them.
Images: 4th Estate, Doubleday, Faber W&N, Sceptre, Vintage