Most Anticipated Debuts of 2016

Noah’s Wife by Lindsey Starck
Release Date: January 26, 2015

The Blurb:

Noah_StarckNoah’s Wife is a story of a community battered by a relentless downpour from the heavens, a gray and wet little town teeming with eccentric characters who have learned to endure the extraordinary circumstances of the rain with astonishing human fortitude and willfulness.

When Noah’s wife arrives with her minister husband to this small coastal town, she is driven by her desire to help revive the congregation. However, she is thwarted by the resistance of her eccentric new neighbors and her failure to realize that her husband is battling his own internal crisis.

As Noah and his wife strive to bring the townspeople to the church—and keep the strains on their marriage at bay—the rain intensifies, impeding their efforts. Soon the river waters rise, flooding the streets of the town and driving scores of wild animals out of the once-renowned zoo. And so, Noah, his wife, and the townspeople must confront the savage forces of nature and attempt to reinforce the fragile ties that bind them to each other before their world is washed away.

Full of whimsy and gentle ironic humor, Noah’s Wife is a wise and poignant novel that draws upon the motifs of the biblical flood story to explore the true meaning of community, to examine the remarkable strength of the human spirit, and to ask whether hope can exist even where faith has been lost.

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River of Ink by Paul M. M. Cooper
Release Date: January 26, 2015

The Blurb:

Ink_CooperIn thirteenth-century Sri Lanka, Asanka, poet to the king, lives a life of luxury, enjoying courtly life and a sweet, furtive love affair with a palace servant, a village girl he is teaching to write. But when Magha, a prince from the mainland, usurps the throne, Asanka’s role as court poet dramatically alters. Magha is a cruel and calculating king–and yet, a lover of poetry–and he commissions Asanka to translate a holy Sanskrit epic into the Tamil language spoken by his recently acquired subjects. The poem will be an olive branch–a symbol of unity between the two cultures.

But in different languages, in different contexts, meaning can become slippery. First inadvertently, then deliberately and dangerously, Asanka’s version of the epic, centered on the killing of an unjust ruler, inspires and arouses the oppressed people of the land. Asanka must juggle the capricious demands of a king with the growing demands of his own political consciousness–and his heart–if he wishes to survive and imagine a future with the woman he loves.

The first novel from a remarkable young writer, River of Ink is a powerful historical tale set in the shadow of oppression–one with deep allegorical resonances in any time–celebrating the triumph of literature and love.

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For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser
Release Date: January 28, 2016 (UK date, I’ve yet to find one for the US)

The Blurb:

Beautiful_HauserThree thousand years ago a war took place that gave birth to legends – to Achilles, the greatest of the Greeks, and Hector, prince of Troy. It was a war that made – and destroyed – both men, a war that shook the very foundations of the world. But what if there was more to this epic conflict? What if there was another, hidden tale of the Trojan War that had yet to be told?

Now is that time – time for the women of Troy to tell their story.

Beautiful_Hauser-GoldThrillingly imagined and startlingly original, For the Most Beautiful reveals the true story of true for the first time. The story of Krisayis, daughter of the Trojans’ High Priest, and of Briseis, princess of Pedasus, who fight to determine the fate of a city and its people in this ancient time of mischievous gods and mythic heroes.

In a novel full of passion and revenge, loyalty and betrayal, bravery and sacrifice, Emily Hauser breathes exhilarating new life into one of the greatest legends of all – in a story that has waited millennia to be told.

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The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
Release Date: February 2, 2015

The Blurb:

Forgetting_GuskinNoah wants to go home. A seemingly easy request from most four year olds. But as Noah’s single-mother, Janie, knows, nothing with Noah is ever easy. One day the pre-school office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about Noah, and no, not later, now – and life as she knows it stops.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought – I’m not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he didn’t care – something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for that something else. And with Noah, he thinks he’s found it.

Soon Noah, Janie and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years – and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

Sharon Guskin has written a captivating, thought-provoking novel that explores what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between. In equal parts a mystery and a testament to the profound connection between a child and parent, THE FORGETTING TIME marks the debut of a major new talent.

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The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah
Release Date: February 2, 2015

The Blurb:

Memory_GappahThe story you have asked me to tell begins not with the ignominious ugliness of Lloyd’s death but on a long-ago day in April when the sun seared my blistered face and I was nine years old and my father and mother sold me to a strange man. I say my father and my mother, but really it was just my mother.

Memory, the narrator of The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she has been convicted of murder. As part of her appeal her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been tried and convicted for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adopted father.

But who was Lloyd Hendricks? Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death? And did everything happen exactly as she remembers? Moving between the townships of the poor and the suburbs of the rich, and between the past and the present, Memory weaves a compelling tale of love, obsession, the relentlessness of fate and the treachery of memory.

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Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday by Christine Reilly
Release Date: April 5, 2015

The Blurb:

Sunday_ReillyThe Middlesteins meets The Virgin Suicides in this arresting family love story about the eccentric yet tight knit Simone family, coping with tragedy during 90s New York, struggling to reconnect with each other and heal.

Claudio and Mathilde Simone, once romantic bohemians hopelessly enamored with each other, find themselves nestled in domesticity in New York, running a struggling vinyl record store and parenting three daughters as best they can: Natasha, an overachieving prodigy; sensitive Lucy, with her debilitating heart condition; and Carly, adopted from China and quietly fixated on her true origins.

With prose that is as keen and illuminating as it is whimsical and luminous, debut novelist Christine Reilly tells the unusual love story of this family. Poignant and humane, Sunday’s on the Phone to Monday is a deft exploration of the tender ties that bind families together, even as they threaten to tear them apart.

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Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Release Date: August 23, 2015

The Blurb:

Dreamers_MbueAt the intersection of Americanah and The Help, a riveting debut novel about two marriages—one immigrant and working class, the other from the top 1%—both chasing their version of the American Dream.

In the fall of 2007, Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Jende hopes the new job will enable him, his adored wife, Neni, and his young son, to live a better life in America.

Their situation only improves when Neni is hired as household help by Clark’s wife, Cindy.

But in the course of their work, Jende and Neni begin to witness infidelities, skirmishes, and family secrets. Desperate to shield the fragile life they’ve built in New York, the Jongas protect the Edwardses, even when the other couple’s secrets begin to drive a wedge between Jende and Neni.

Then, with the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, a tragedy changes all four lives forever, and the Jongas must decide whether to continue fighting to stay in a recession-ravaged America or give up and return home to Cameroon.

A deeply empathetic debut novel about marriage, class, and race, and the crevasses in the American Dream.

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