Top 5: Debut Novels

BurialRites1Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Shortlisted for the 2013 Guardian First Book Award, South Australian author Hannah Kent first heard of the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir on an Icelandic Rotary Exchange as a teenager. Kent movingly reimagines Agnes Magnusdottir’s story, as one of the last Icelandic convicts to go through the ordeal of capital punishment in Burial Rites.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayowe-need-new-names_original

Having won the 2011 African Caine prize for her short story about a starving band of Zimbabwean shanty street kids, Zimbabwe-born NoViolet Bulawayo’s debut novel is also about the absent childhood of Zimbabwe’s lost generation in an awful world of poverty and violence. The protagonist is Darling, a 10-year-old child growing up under the rule of Mugabe.

Ghana Must GoGhana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

“Afropolitan” is how Taiye Selasi describes the characters in her debut novel. This story centres on a broken Ghanian-Nigerian family following the death of its patriarch. Moving through generations and across continents, Selasi’s novel is elegantly delivered, gripping and a sign of great things to come from this writer, who imparts much about African culture.

A1KswYFQz0L._SL1500_Pig’s Foot by Carlos Acosta

Trained in ballet from an early age at the National School of Ballet in Cuba, and appearing as a guest artist all around the world with many well-established ballet schools, Carlos Acosta’s turn to novel-writing could be seen as an unusual one. Nevertheless, Pig’s Foot as a debut novel is tempered with dark humour and a passionately magical history.


The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

Quirky teenager Alex Woods is stopped at airport customs for carrying 113 grams of marijuana and an urn filled with ashes. With a clairvoyant single mother and a bizarre friendship with a reclusive widower, his life is far from ordinary. A strong character created by Gavin Extence, The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a heartwarming tale with punchy plot.