11 Buzzy Debut Novels You Don’t Want to Miss in 2023

By Stephanie Brown
An assortment of seven diverse book covers spread out, showcasing a range of literary genres and creative designs.

Set a reminder to pick up these new novels written by a chorus of new voices in literature.

There’s something truly special about cracking open an author’s first novel. Lucky for you, this year is packed with debuts that are sure to delight. From sweeping historical fictions and endearing family dramas to enthralling speculative tales, here are 11 debut novels you don’t want to miss — by the end, you may have found your new favorite author.

Beyond That, the Sea

By Laura Spence-Ash

Calling all historical fiction fans: This transporting read will sweep you off your feet. Beyond That, the Sea begins during WWII and follows Bea, a shy young Londoner whose working-class parents ship her away to Boston as part of a wartime program ferrying British children to safety. As German bombs rain down on England, Bea adjusts to her new life in America with her wealthy surrogate family. But just as she settles into her new life, the war ends, and she’s called back to London, upending her sense of loyalty and belonging. Spanning the dark days of WWII to the 1970s, Laura Spence-Ash’s “magnetic debut” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) is an entrancing tale. You’ll get lost in its affecting coming-of-age narrative as Bea searches for her sense of self and a place to call home.

Publication date: March 21, 2023

Suburban serenity: a novel of everyday drama and secrets behind closed doors.

If We’re Being Honest

By Cat Shook

Cat Shook’s witty debut reminds us that family are forever — even if, from time to time, they drive us absolutely bonkers. Set over a sweltering week in Georgia, If We’re Being Honest follows the members of the Williams family as they gather for the funeral of their beloved patriarch. Needless to say, some of the Williamses are better at holding it together than others, and it isn’t long before chaos erupts. Like any great book about family drama, Shook’s novel is rich with secrets, revelations, and plenty of heart. Critics have praised the author for her charmingly flawed characters and her skillful interweaving of multiple perspectives into a warmhearted whole.

Publication date: April 18, 2023

Two badminton players in dynamic poses with shuttlecocks raining down around them against a light background, with the title "western lane" and the author's name "chetna maroo" featured prominently as part of a novel's cover design.

Western Lane

By Chetna Maroo

In this poignant new novel, Chetna Maroo offers a moving meditation on grief as she celebrates sisterhood, youthful innocence, and self-discovery. The novel follows 11-year-old Gopi as she copes with her mother’s passing. She finds solace in her devotion to the game of squash, getting lost in the sport’s rhythms and the physical demands of her unsparing training regimen. A captivating exploration of trauma and release, Western Lane is a brief but powerful read.

Publication date: February 7, 2023

Book cover for 'chain gang all-stars' by nana kwame adjei-brenyah, depicting a vibrant burst of colors emanating from a broken chain, symbolizing freedom, struggle, and possibly the explosive themes within the novel.

Chain Gang All-Stars

By Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is an award-winning writer and the New York Times bestselling author of the short story collection Friday Black. In his debut novel, the author delivers a scathing indictment of the U.S. prison-industrial complex through a dystopian lens. Chain Gang All-Stars imagines a grim future in which prisoners compete for their freedom in gladiator-style death matches before sold-out audiences. The speculative fiction narrative follows two top women gladiators, Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker, who are both teammates and lovers, as they fight to survive the games and escape with their lives.

Publication date: April 4, 2023

Book cover for "house of cotton" by monica brashears, featuring a heart shaped strawberry surrounded by floral and butterfly motifs within a geometric frame.

House of Cotton

By Monica Brashears

A mesmerizing work rich with complex characters, Monica Brashears’ haunting debut novel about being a poor, Black woman in Appalachia offers a sharp twist on the southern Gothic tale. House of Cotton centers on Magnolia Brown, a 19-year-old gas station attendant. She’s struggling to make ends meet when she’s offered a lucrative job by a mysterious stranger named Cotton: a “modeling” gig at the man’s family-owned funeral home. Magnolia accepts, but it isn’t long before the job takes a strange and dangerous turn.

Publication date: April 4, 2023

An eerie and atmospheric book cover for 'in memoriam' by alice winn, featuring a haunting landscape enveloped in darkness and illuminated by ghostly arcs in the sky, promising a story of depth and emotion.

In Memoriam

By Alice Winn

Bestselling author Lev Grossman hails Alice Winn’s epic love story debut as “dazzling and wrenching, witty, and wildly romantic.” Set in Europe during World War I, In Memoriam follows Henry Gaunt and Sidney Ellwood, two students at an English boarding school. Henry and Sidney are best friends and in love with each other — though neither young man realizes their secret love is reciprocated. When the opportunity arises, Henry enlists, hoping to escape the anguish in his heart. To his surprise, however, Sidney soon joins him on the front lines. Set against a tragic, war-torn backdrop, this tale of forbidden romance is sure to leave you breathless.

Publication date: March 7, 2023

A snowy forest under a mysterious green sky sets a chilling scene on the cover of julia bartz's novel 'the writing retreat'.

The Writing Retreat

By Julia Bartz

Julia Bartz’s deliciously dark psychological thriller is generating plenty of heat this winter; it was recently an Editors’ Pick in Amazon’s mystery, thriller, and suspense genre. The propulsive tale explores the dark side of friendship and fame. Alex, a struggling writer, jumps at the opportunity to attend a monthlong writing retreat at the estate of a famous feminist horror writer. Upon Alex’s arrival, the rules of the retreat are revealed: All attendees must write an entire novel in one month, and the best manuscript of the bunch will receive a lucrative publishing deal. The writers get to writing, but it isn’t long before the mind games commence and menacing motives take hold. Darkly satirical and full of plot twists, The Writing Retreat will keep you locked in your reading chair until the last page is turned.

Publication date: February 21, 2023

 

A colorful book cover for the novel "pineapple street" by jenny jackson, featuring an artistic representation of an opulent room with classical decorations and vibrant colors.

Pineapple Street

By Jenny Jackson

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2023 by Time, Vogue, Bustle, and more, Jenny Jackson’s Pineapple Street follows the lives of three women from a wealthy Brooklyn family, each facing their own unique struggles with love and class. While the literary fiction novel is set against the backdrop of New York luxury, it’s ultimately a story about family and the chaos of first love.

Publication date: March 7, 2023

 

Vibrant cover art for the novel 'maame' by jessica george, featuring bright floral patterns and bold typography.

Maame

By Jessica George

Jessica George’s acclaimed coming-of-age debut is a Today Show Book Club pick and has been called “sparkling” by The New York Times and “utterly charming” by bestselling author Celeste Ng. The clever, hilarious, and heartfelt novel explores everything from familial duty and racism to female pleasure and the importance of friendship. Maame follows Maddie, a Londoner with an ailing father to take care of and an overbearing mother to contend with. When her mum returns from her latest trip to Ghana, Maddie takes the opportunity to strike out on her own and find her true self — only to encounter the hope and heartbreak of adulthood.

Publication date: January 31, 2023

An overturned bicycle on a grassy background with the title "the gospel of orla" by eoghan walls displayed above it.

The Gospel of Orla

By Eoghan Walls

This genre-bending debut novel by Northern Irish poet Eoghan Walls is a supernatural coming-of-age comedy that merges Irish lore, faith, and magic. After Orla’s mother dies, Orla runs away from her village to Ireland with a man named Jesus who can resurrect animals. Critics and readers alike are praising The Gospel of Orla for its originality, authentic voice, and unique exploration of life and faith.

Publication date: March 7, 2023

 

An intriguing book cover for 'the golden spoon' by jessa maxwell, featuring a silhouette of a castle on a fork, teasing a mystery that blends grandeur with culinary themes.

The Golden Spoon

By Jessa Maxwell

If you ever wanted a side of murder mystery with your favorite baking competition show, Jessa Maxwell’s fresh spin on the classic whodunit should be at the top of your list. When someone turns up dead on the set of TV’s most popular baking competition, the contestants all become suspects. But something’s also off about the show’s beloved host, who may not be as warm and grandmotherly as she seems on TV. The Golden Spoon is cooked to perfection, with quirky characters, clever twists, and delectable suspense. It’s sure to satisfy mystery book club groups as well as baking show enthusiasts.

Publication date: March 7, 2023

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