2017 gave us a lot of great first novels, and as I’ve written before, first novels are often an author’s best work — maybe because it’s more raw, or maybe because it’s the story the author is most driven to tell. Here are my favorite debut novels read in 2017 (all released in 2017 or late 2016):
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
- The Leavers by Lisa Ko
- The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
- Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel Khong
- Atlas of Forgotten Places by Jenny D. Williams
- Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Two more mentions — these novels weren’t perfect, but still strong first novels:
And I also wanted to highlight The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, an amazing first novel that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016. Nguyen has written nonfiction and short stories (The Refugees is supposed to be excellent) but this is his only novel.
I didn’t include nonfiction or short stories on this list, just novels.
I’m looking forward to the sophomore efforts from these writers! What first novels do you recommend?