75 Debut Novels to Discover in 2021

Posted by Cybil on January 14, 2021


Readers have a lot to look forward to this year! Just feast your eyes upon all of these debut books to check out and emerging authors to discover. Browse through this list to find the perfect novel for any sort of reading mood, with genres including literary fiction, historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, and more. 

It may be too soon to tell which of these books are about to become breakout hits and which authors will become household names, but we bet that you'll be hearing about this year's class of new authors for many years to come. Oh, for the purpose of this article, we are defining a debut author as a writer publishing their first novel for adults. 

Scroll over the book covers to learn more about each novel, and be sure to add the books that pique your interest to your Want to Read shelf!

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Comments Showing 1-41 of 41 (41 new)

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message 1: by 如意 (last edited Jan 14, 2021 04:19PM) (new)

如意 "When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body." - Dial A for Aunties

Ohh I'm excited to read this book! As I read the synopsis, the faces of the meddlesome (but always well-meaning) aunties in my own life immediately came to mind. ꉂ(ᵔᗜᵔ*)


message 2: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie Rebecca Hardiman's Good Eggs will DELIGHT!!!! a must read and a page turner !


message 3: by John Giordano (new)

John Giordano The Prophet sounds like the sort of book you'll want to return to on multiple occasions.


message 4: by Denise (new)

Denise R Shadow Copy Exit Darkness and Shadow Copy Enter Light by Michele and Ryan Leathers !!!

This series is full of suspense and action. I couldn't put it down. Everything you want in a YA book. Its a good fun read but also has an element of ethical dilemma for the deeper thinker. If you were dying and could switch bodies, would you? Where do the donor bodies come from? Fresh story line, great distinct characters, no vanilla here. Read it!


message 5: by Angeline (new)

Angeline Dial A for aunties I can't wait to get my hands on this book


message 6: by Crystal (new)

Crystal King This list is also missing Jennifer Dupee's debut The Little French Bridal Shop!!


message 7: by Carrie (new)

Carrie This list is missing: Girls With Bright Futures It's a great one!


message 8: by Nigel (new)

Nigel Charman The list is missing Crow Court by Andy Charman


message 9: by Robert (last edited Jan 15, 2021 07:16AM) (new)

Robert M Why s0 few male novelists. Diversity, anyone?


message 10: by Patricia (new)

Patricia Baker i love anything local like small towns, whether set in this country or foreign


message 11: by Emily (new)

Emily This list needs to add The Last White Flag by Bob Cartmill to it! It’s a historical fiction about the founding and colonization of Australia. It’s so great! Too many historical fictions are associated with the World Wars, the Civil War, or English Monarchy. I love that this one is so different and it’s something I haven’t read before. Y’all should give it a read!!


message 13: by Alyssa (new)

Alyssa Hall Missing is TRUSTING CLAIRE by Alyssa Hall


message 14: by Fenris (new)

Fenris The only one I'm interesting in reading is "Becoming Leidah". The rest all seem sad and tired.


message 15: by D. (new)

D. Todd Deeken Some great looking stuff here, would love to see "Paper Father" included. Early reviews have been encouraging.


message 16: by Jonathon (last edited Jan 15, 2021 08:57AM) (new)

Jonathon Neville I actually just read it, but when you ask what books we're excited to read, others are surely great, but this is the book I'm excited to read (again).

Becoming Leidah by Michelle Grierson

While reading, I wondered: What am I ‘becoming’ as I read? Will I ever-after be more alive than I’ve ever been? In the end, some of that excitement was lost - replaced with something deeper.

How many dimensions of literary delight exist? I think I experienced all here: surprise after surprise - micro to macro - subtle yet electrifying.

Both innocence and experience are in full bloom. Not just a fantasy, it’s very grounded in reality. Magical realism with an emphasis on both magical and real.

It did not fulfill my wishes. It brought me somewhere more nuanced, more mature - an integration that made magic more real. It invited self-reflection, and brought some of my life into greater perspective.

I saw Becoming Leidah on a list of historical fiction. Fair enough. It certainly presents a deeply-researched time and place, and adds layers beyond factual or even speculative histories, so although it is not about famous people or events, it is historical and it is fiction. I’d also call it a mythical folktale, and family drama. And (perhaps like all family dramas, beneath the surface) it's a mystery. It's not only a mystery to discover what happened / what's really happening in this story - it's a mystery into humanity's greatest mysteries.

The book jumps between time periods and narrators, and although I have read books where that bothered me, here I loved weaving the story together. Still, I can imagine some readers finding it a challenge. Unreliable narrators and intentionally undeclared travel between worlds can make it seem like the story is inconsistent, when it’s actually just more layered than you might assume.

Reading the jacket description, I wondered if it would present a stereotype of religion or men. Turned out I was the one doing the stereotyping. (I came to identify with both husband and wife.)

The ending is highly poetic, and ambiguous - which might not work for people who want a clear ending / definitive closure. It’s not a cliffhanger - it is complete in itself - and yet, I would love to read a follow-up book - I want to explore where these characters go after growing to this point. Perhaps that exploration is up to me.

I used to wonder to what extent / in what ways it would be true to say "With imagination, anyone can be rich." Well, I've never been richer.

-------------
Becoming Leidah


message 17: by K.S. (new)

K.S. Avard Robert wrote: "Why s0 few male novelists. Diversity, anyone?"

I confess to wondering that myself...


message 18: by K.S. (new)

K.S. Avard Emily wrote: "This list needs to add The Last White Flag by Bob Cartmill to it! It’s a historical fiction about the founding and colonization of Australia. It’s so great! Too many historical fictions are associa..."

In the same vein... Can I offer you a different historical fiction work? Like you said, it's definitely set in a completely time period than usual (17th century Austria) and - I think anyway - it's a completely different story than usual.


message 19: by Aviva (new)

Aviva Holy dang, you guys finally fixed the navigation! Thank you!


message 20: by Paula (new)

Paula Ward I recently read Schooled in Silence. Very timely topic considering the Me, Too movement and so many current news stories of abuse and trauma. Really makes you realize how vulnerable women and girls have been (and still are) throughout our patriarchal history.


message 21: by Donna (new)

Donna Robert wrote: "Why s0 few male novelists. Diversity, anyone?"

Sounds like The End of Men is the debut novel for you from this list!


message 22: by Rylee (new)

Rylee Dermer Robert wrote: "Why s0 few male novelists. Diversity, anyone?"
If it makes you feel any better all my favorite novelists are male and none of them are on this list.


message 23: by Rylee (new)

Rylee Dermer Donna wrote: "Robert wrote: "Why s0 few male novelists. Diversity, anyone?"

Sounds like The End of Men is the debut novel for you from this list!"


Lol


message 24: by The Cheshire (new)

The Cheshire Cat If we need to add more male authors to the list, I would highly recommend This Changed Everything: The truth is dangerous by David Palin. It's a dark, psychological thriller which had me hooked from the start.


message 25: by V. V. (new)

V. V. McMenzies A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan
How can you ignore A Room Called Earth !?
Crazy


message 26: by Dywane (new)

Dywane I Love Read This Book?


message 27: by Jodi (new)

Jodi The Cheshire wrote: "If we need to add more male authors to the list, I would highly recommend This Changed Everything: The truth is dangerous by David Palin. It's a dark, psychological thriller which h..."

This list is about debut novels, not those written by established authors.


message 28: by Hazel Bee (new)

Hazel Bee The Prophets is at the top of my list.


message 29: by Violet (new)

Violet I was lucky to get an advanced copy of "Acts of Desperation" by Megan Nolan and loved it! It was dark and made me angry, but it was beautifully written, very honest and insightful.


message 30: by Serenity09 (last edited Jan 21, 2021 04:35AM) (new)

Serenity09 There's a hidden gem of a debut novel coming out this year called Komoreby ;)


message 31: by Jade (new)

Jade OMG, The Witch's Heart just became one of my most excited releases of the year. Thanks Goodreads!


message 32: by Mary L (new)

Mary L I would add to this list "The Other One" by R.A. Kamin.
The Other One


message 33: by Jim (new)

Jim i found two that sound good... Nice!
Madam - Phoebe Wynne
The Scapegoat - Sara Davis


message 34: by Liam (new)

Liam Ward they're all a bit... the same.
Same themes, same types of characters, similar blurb...


message 35: by Christine (new)

Christine Behunin Robert wrote: "Why s0 few male novelists. Diversity, anyone?"

Roughly 75% of Goodreads readers are women (according to a study by Quartz). So, it's possible that reading about people who are more like you would appeal to a lot of users. Not to mention it's a good break from the past decades, where male novelist's books were the only ones to be praised and read. Got any recommendations, though? Maybe you'll find better results on a site with less of a female user-base.


message 36: by Suibei (new)

Suibei Can't wait! These all sound great!


message 37: by Travelin (new)

Travelin The description f'or 'The End of Men' isn't far from the truth, since Covid appears to disproportionally kill more men than woman. But the description also makes it sound as if all the men are dying, and rather than worrying about them, the women get together to just discuss their feelings.

I don't see a lot of comedy novels here, although a few sound so bad that they could almost be unintentionally funny.


message 38: by Betsy (new)

Betsy Each and every one sounds dreadful.


message 39: by Marisa (new)

Marisa Russell The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is outstanding. I cannot praise this novel enough.


message 40: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Robinson Wow, there's a good few books about pregnancy lol


message 41: by Aurora (new)

Aurora M Love all the bright colors


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