We’ve been talking in the office about how we’re going to launch our fantastic new imprint for debut novels. One of the things we kept realising was how many of the books that we all knew and loved fitted into that category – it’s amazing how many authors clearly got it right first time!
So, as an inspiration to us to publish our brilliant new authors as well as possible, we had a brainstorm around the office for our favourite debut novels of all time. Below are some of ours (there were so many suggestions we’re going to have to do two blogposts . . .), but we’d also love to know your favourites – let us know on Facebook or on Twitter using the hashtag #FavouriteDebutBook. If we get enough suggestions we’d love to do a third blog featuring your choices!
Joel, Editorial: I’ve always been terrible at picking just one favourite! I’m sorely tempted by A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava (disallowed because I worked on it, if only a little, in my last job) and Wuthering Heights (disallowed because apparently that’s a bit of a dated choice for a new imprint…), but in the end I have to pick Starter for Ten by David Nicholls. It’s funnier than almost any book I’ve read, before or since, the story and characters are wonderful too. Plus it shows that funny books about love aren’t just for girls . . .
Sanne, Digital: Mine has to be The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. It’s a gorgeous and haunting book, with some of the most delicious writing I’ve ever encountered (I seriously had to pace myself so I wouldn’t finish it in a day). I didn’t realise it was his debut novel when I read it, but since it was my first Eugenides, it was very appropriate! While I’m really excited to dive into some of his other books, I have a feeling The Virgin Suicides will probably always remain my favourite.
Jenny, Marketing: A recent discovery for me The Sky is Everywhere – Jandy Nelson’s debut novel. It came very highly recommended (by the wonderful Olivia Mead, thanks Livs) and it absolutely did not disappoint. In fact it shot straight up into my Very Favourite Books of All of Time list and I promptly bought a copy for my best friend. I think that’s the ultimate measure of a great book, if you’re compelled to pass it on and share its wonder. Magical and whimsical to exactly the right degree, romantic and heartbreaking but never straying into the saccharine or clichéd. Read it, read it now. Oh and shout out to Wuthering Heights and Emily Brontë because sometimes a debut is also the last and that is just the biggest shame.
Debbie, Hot Key Books: I love a good debut, it’s so exciting to read a new voice, so there’s loads I could recommend (for instance I’d still choose to re-read The Secret History over The Goldfinch) but I would always go back to Behind the Scenes at the Museum by the amazing Kate Atkinson. I think her writing has only got better, but it sets the tone for all the subsequent books and is still damn funny as well as emotional.
Naomi, Hot Key Books: It has to be The Secret History by Donna Tartt for me. It remains one of the best books I’ve ever read, let alone one from a debut author. I was able to hear her talk at an event surrounding The Goldfinch launch and it was so fascinating to hear how she wrote it – she was in a writing class at college with Brett Easton Ellis (imagine being in THAT class now and NOT being the author of a modern classic) and he got Less Than Zero published whilst they were still there, and she was like well great, I have this half-written draft of a thing which I may as well never show to anyone now . . . but I’m so glad she did.
Tristan, Production: My favourite debut novel is The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. As a teen I became engrossed in this weird tale about Frank, a strange character doing disturbing experiments on a remote island which just kept getting darker and darker. A fantastic read with an ending that still haunts me to this day.