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 1-49 of 49 (49 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 Fenris (new)

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


message 14: by D. (new)

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


message 15: 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 16: by K.S. (new)

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

I confess to wondering that myself...


message 17: 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 18: by Aviva (new)

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


message 19: 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 20: 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 21: by [deleted user] (new)

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 22: by [deleted user] (new)

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 23: 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 24: by V. V. (new)

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


message 25: by Dywane (new)

Dywane I Love Read This Book?


message 26: 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 27: by Hazel Bee (new)

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


message 28: 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 29: 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 30: by Jade (new)

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


message 31: by Mary L (new)

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


message 32: by Jim (new)

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


message 33: by Liam (new)

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


message 34: 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 35: by Suibei (new)

Suibei Can't wait! These all sound great!


message 36: 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 37: by Betsy (new)

Betsy Each and every one sounds dreadful.


message 38: by Marisa (new)

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


message 39: by Jessica (new)

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


message 40: by Aurora (new)

Aurora M Love all the bright colors


message 41: by Gordon (last edited Jan 27, 2021 06:07AM) (new)

Gordon Vanstone A quick peruse of all this great lit, and a few stuck out that I'll definitely read this year. Gold Diggers, Darryl, Whenever A Happy Thing Falls and How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones... all sound great.
I'm also gonna plug my own debut novel out this year, Rainy Day Ramen and the Cosmic Pachinko, out April 2021. A Murakami-esque magical realism, in which Fred, a broke, hopelessly lost in life, and unemployed ESL teacher, describes his metaphysical odyssey from Okinawa to Tokyo and search for meaning beyond the physical path trodden.


message 42: by Kieva (new)

Kieva McLaughlin If anybody enjoys fantasy YA. I recently released my first book Torpor. It’s free on kindle unlimited. Find out more here https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1838...


message 43: by Kevin (new)

Kevin This list is missing: Mina and the Undead It's a great one!


message 44: by Jeff (new)

Jeff 'Let's Get Back to the Party' by Zak Salih has my attention! I'm a little younger than this generation described in the book, but it's the exact issue I've been having with the gay community. It looks fascinating and it's already out, so I got lucky!!! ;-)


message 45: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Betsy wrote: "Each and every one sounds dreadful."

I just started busting up laughing at this one. There are a lot of books on this list that seem like the literary community is just reaching to sell books.


message 46: by Jeff (new)

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

It's our society. As much as we all like to think the literary community is all-inclusive and non-partisan, I keep seeing so many anti-Trump books advertised when there are a lot of pro books out there. Now, I know this isn't the same thing AT ALL, but it definitely relates. I'm not even a Trump-supporter, but I just notice these things. The PC Culture has destroyed comedy and now it's going after what's advertised in literature.

Before anyone becomes angry with me, I studied literature and spent 3 full semesters studying novels set in other countries and LOVED a lot of them. It's interesting and I acknowledge what horrific things occurred because of colonialism. I just hope that we aren't headed down a path we can't come back from.

SORRY, This is so dramatic! I'm actually excited for a few of these books, so anyway... :-D


message 47: by Tina (last edited Jan 28, 2021 12:29PM) (new)

Tina Do novella’s count too? Then I propose A Queen to Come by Frances Ellen A Queen to Come (Asters Original Series #0.1) by Frances Ellen . The first in a trilogy of magic- and action-packed prequel novellas featuring Asters and Affinites battling Dark Kings and their Disciples for the Surface of the world and the safety of humans.


message 48: by Jessica (new)

Jessica From a more genre-fiction perspective, here are some of the debuts I'm looking forward to:

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse (mystery/thriller)
Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia (mystery)
For the Wolf by Hannah F Whitten (YA fantasy)
The Conductors by Nicole Glover (historical fantasy)
A Lady's Formula for Love by Elizabeth Everett (historical romance)
The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo (historical fantasy - first novel, but she's published novellas)
A Master of Djinn by P Djeli Clark (historical fantasy - first novel, but he's published novellas)
The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gold (YA fantasy)
May the Best Man Win by ZR Ellor (YA contemporary romance)


message 49: by Alli (new)


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