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Posted by Lucy H on 18th Jan 2021

New Debut Fiction for 2021

We’ve got some fantastic debut fiction lined up for the next couple of months, and here are a few of our top choices:

The Stranger Times cover

The Stranger Times [9781787633353]

A Manchester-set modern magical fantasy which is also a police procedural whodunnit (or whatdunnit) with the world of journalism making a strong showing.

You’ll be enthralled by the eclectic team responsible for writing and printing The Stranger Times, a weekly paper devoted to all things Strange. 

The first in a series by CK McDonnell, better known as Caimh McDonnell, prolific comedy writer, author of The Dublin Trilogy, and former stand-up comedian. His gift for snappy dialogue and real-time repartee is evident, as well as his skill at an excellently plotted story. 

We loved it and look forward to the next in the series.

Open Water cover photo

Open Water [9780241448779]

“Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists - he a photographer, she a dancer - trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. 

Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence.” 

This beautiful debut novel is being lauded as one of the most moving love stories of recent years, and questions race, sexual stereotypes, and expectations.

The author is Caleb Azumah Nelson, a 26-year-old British-Ghanaian writer and photographer living in South East London.

The Sanatorium cover photo

The Sanatorium [9781787633315] 

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she's taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother's recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept. 

The place and her brother set her on edge, and when her brother’s new fiancée vanishes overnight, and the hotel is cut off by a storm, everyone begins to panic. But no-one has realised yet that another woman has gone missing. And she's the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they're all in.

This sounds like a real spine-chiller, and the Alpine setting is as beautiful as it is eerie.

Sarah Pearse lives in South Devon and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands before becoming an author. She also has a home in the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel.

King of Rabbits cover photo

King of Rabbits [9781785152481] 

A hard-hitting story of a young boy in rural Somerset escaping to the woods and the wild rabbits he befriends there in order to try and escape his bleak family circumstances.

This looks like one of the big stories of the year already, covering so many sensitive issues – poverty, drugs, petty crime, family crisis - but at the same time showing the optimism of children.

Karla Neblett has worked in schools helping children struggling with learning and behaviour issues, as well as working with children who misuse alcohol and other substances, and supporting children who are carers in their family. She lives in Somerset

We Are All Birds of Uganda cover photo

We Are All Birds of Uganda [9781529118643]

This is a multiple generational story across two continents, following the lives of Ugandans and the disparate challenges and trials they face.

Moving between two continents and several generations over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is a multi-layered, moving and immensely resonant novel of love, loss, and what it means to find home. 

From the prestigious Merky imprint, and authored by one of the most exciting young novelists of today, We Are All Birds of Uganda is her debut novel, inspired by the mixed background from which she hails. 

Hafsa Zayyan is a writer and dispute resolution lawyer based in London. 

The Hatmakers cover photo

The Hatmakers [9780241426302] 

This is a delightful children’s novel about a family of magical milliners threatened by the changing world in which they live. 

The first adventure in a spellbinding new magical world.

Tamzin Merchant grew up in Australia, South Africa and Dubai before moving to England in her early teens, where she finally discovered the season of winter. This is her first book.

Bestiary cover photoBestiary [9781787301849]

The cover art for Bestiary is so striking, we’d probably love it just for that, but the story sounds incredible too. 

Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this spellbinding, visceral debut about one family's queer desires, violent impulses and buried secrets. 

Tracing one family's history from Taiwan to America, Bestiary is a lyrical and electrifying novel.

Ming Chang was born in the year of the tiger and is an acclaimed poet. Raised in California, she now lives in New York.

If you enjoy any of these titles, please do leave a review on the A Great Read website – we love seeing what our customers think of the books!