Best of 2017: Debut Novels

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):

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  2. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
  3. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  4. The Leavers by Lisa Ko
  5. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  6. Goodbye Vitamin by Rachel Khong
  7. Atlas of Forgotten Places by Jenny D. Williams
  8. Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

todaysTwo more mentions — these novels weren’t perfect, but still strong first novels:

  1. All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
  2. The Wangs Versus the World by Jade Chang

sympathizerAnd 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?

  6 comments for “Best of 2017: Debut Novels

  1. December 16, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    I just read Homegoing . There were many aspects to admire like her characterisation but I thought the book disappointing overall.

  2. December 19, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    I haven’t read any of these but have some on my shelves/kindle! Especially interested in Homegoing and The Leavers!

    • December 20, 2017 at 7:11 am

      Both are tough reads but very good, and amazing accomplishments for a first novel. Hope you like them.

  3. December 20, 2017 at 12:29 am

    Earlier this year I was feeling as though I typically rated the second book I read by an author lower than the first, but checking the stats, I found this wasn’t true. Now I’m curious if it’s a first book by an author, rather than the first book I read, that I’m likely to rate best. An interesting idea!

    • December 20, 2017 at 7:12 am

      That’s fascinating, I’ve never looked at it that way. I only know that first books tend to stay with me longer. But always important to look at the data!

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