Library Journal‘s latest group of debut picks from Summer & Fall 2018 is actually two lists in one: “Books To Get” (books that LJ reviewers have found strong, insightful, and sure to start everyone talking) and “Books To Anticipate” (forthcoming titles that LJ sees buzz about). We say, BUY ‘EM ALL!
BOOKS TO GET
TREEBORNE by Caleb Johnson
Interviewed about three generations of family in fading Elberta, AL, Janie Treeborne starts by recalling her grandfather’s work on a now-crumbling dam expected to burst and flood their 700-acre homestead. “So vivid and real that readers won’t want [the] stories to end.” (TREEBORNE has three starred reviews)
THE GOLDEN STATE by Lydia Kiesling
Young wife and mother Daphne, whose Turkish husband is being barred from the country, flees San Francisco with toddler Honey. But living in high-desert Altavista only intensifies her dismay. “There’s so much to love about this novel.”
SEVERANCE by Ling Ma
Completed after having won the Graywolf SLS Prize for the best novel excerpt from an emerging writer, this title lampoons workaholism and apocalyptic sagas equally as Candace Chen, on contract, still obsessively posts pictures of a New York City emptied by Then Shen Fever. “A smart, searing exposé.”
MEET ME AT THE MUSEUM by Anne Youngson
Initially brought together by an artifact called the Tollund Man, disaffected English farmwife Tina Hopgood and museum curator and widower Anders Larsen grow ever closer through a series of increasingly engaged and engaging emails. “Luminous, affecting, and delightful.”
THE OTHER WOMAN by Sandie Jones
Lovers Emily and Adam face a woman who won’t let Adam go—his mother, Pammie. What starts as standard sniping gets a whole lot scarier. “Readers’ pulses will race uncontrollably as they anticipate how Pammie might strike next.”
LIES by T.M. Logan
Joe Lynch has a terrible quarrel with neighbor Ben, even shoving him to the ground. Now that Ben has vanished, Joe is suspected of his murder, never mind the absence of a body. “A tensely woven eight-day cat and mouse chase.”
BABY TEETH by Zoje Stage
What’s a devoted mother to do when her young daughter wants to kill her so that she can snuggle up to her father? “The author keeps the suspense taut by alternating chapters between Hanna and Suzette, offering a terrifying glimpse into the inner thoughts of a budding sociopath.” A July LibraryReads pick.
CITY OF LIES by Sam Hawke
Best friend to Tain, the Chancellor’s Heir, and nephew to the Chancellor’s poison master, Jovan is drawn into the political chaos that results when both his uncle and the chancellor are slain by an unidentified poison. “Epic fantasy.”
SUICIDE CLUB by Rachel Heng
In a near-future where the genetically blessed can live for 300 years—or maybe forever—lucky “Lifer” Lea Kirino is drawn by her renegade father into the Suicide Club, whose members resist the quest for immortality. “Fans of modern speculative fiction and readers who love stories that warn us to be careful what we wish for will be enthralled.”
GAME OF THE GODS by Jay Schiffman
Even as tensions presage a coming global war, judge for the Federacy Max Cone wishes he could drop politics. But the kidnapping of his wife and children put him in a different frame of mind. An LJ SF Debut of the Month; “absorbing sf adventure.”
BOOKS TO ANTICIPATE
HOUSEGIRL by Michael Donkor
An Observer “New Face of Fiction” for this lyrical, heartfelt story, Donkor takes housegirl Belinda from Ghana (and from the young hire she’s training) to serve a posh Ghanaian couple in London as a model for their wayward daughter. Pitch-perfect dialog contrasts lilting African politesse and teenage London cool (“Belinda, totally. Yeah. Thank you”) while showing how young women talk.
SHE WOULD BE KING by Wayétu Moore
Blending the stories of sun-bright Gbessa, exiled from her village; June Dey, who fled his Virginia plantation; and Norman Aragon, son of a British colonizer and a Jamaican slave, Moore imaginatively re-creates Liberia’s early years in resonant, near-folkloric language (“The elders say that where you find a suffering village, you will hear the wind give warning”). A BookExpo buzz book.