The OF Blog: Best of 2014: Debuts

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best of 2014: Debuts

2014 was a good year for debut novelists.  Out of the 26 debut novels/collections that I read this year, 12 made my Top 50 releases of 2014 list, with 6 in the Top 20 (to be posted shortly).  Here they are, with brief descriptions:

12.  David Cronenberg, Consumed

One of the more unusual, atmospheric novels I've read this year.

11.  John Darnielle, Wolf in White Van

Longlisted for the National Book Award, this debut novel is very well-constructed.

10.   Matthew Thomas, We Are Not Ourselves

Excellent debut novel that follows the lives of an Irish-American family across three generations and the complex relationship of an ambitious wife and a more passive, content husband.

9.   Jennifer Marie Brissett, Elysium

Debut novel that shows, as on a computer screen in the sky, the alternate lives of a couple.  The depth of characterization and prose impress.

8.  Rene Denfeld, The Enchanted 

Powerful debut that looks at the lives and dreams of those condemned to death row.  Moving.

7.  Cristina Henríquez, The Book of Unknown Americans 

 This story of the lives of recent immigrants and their experiences is subtle in its breadth and depth of emotion.

6.  Eimear McBride, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing 

Winner of the 2014 Baileys Prize for Women's Fiction, this is one of the most daring narratives published this year.

5.  Roxane Gay, An Untamed State 

This novel about a Haitian-American woman's experiences after being kidnapped in Port-au-Prince was one of the best, most unsettling debuts I've read this year.

4.  Julia Elliott, The Wilds

This debut collection is full of outstanding stories.

3.  Catherine Lacey, Nobody is Ever Missing

This tale of a woman who up and leaves her dissatisfying home and professional life to discover herself is well-written and moving.

2.  Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You 

This story of a biracial American family's fissioning, leading up to the suicide of their daughter, was a devastating read.

1.  Phil Klay, Redeployment 

This National Book Award winning collection is one of my favorite books overall this year.


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