Great Debut Novels

The best first novel by an author.
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flag this list (?)
1,049 books · 1,521 voters · list created August 13th, 2008 by Sarah.
Tags: debut, first
73 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Greyweather 2650 books
72 friends
Barbara 952 books
201 friends
Ashley 1109 books
45 friends
Antoine 949 books
172 friends
Eli 4 books
2 friends
Julieh 193 books
1 friend
DB 361 books
11 friends
mdt 1222 books
17 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-50 of 59 (59 new)


message 1: by Izzy (new)

Izzy Add to this list: The Help by Kathryn Stockett


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads The form to add books to the list is at the right-hand side of the page. Anyone can do so.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Deleted (with enormous regret) "The Princess Bride." Not only was William Goldman already an Academy Award-decorated screenwriter by the time of this book's publication; he'd already published several novels and other works of fiction by this time as well. ("The Temple of Gold" - 1957; "Your Turn to Curtsy, My Turn to Bow" - 1958; "Soldier in the Rain" - 1960; "Boys and Girls Together" - 1964; "No Way to Treat a Lady" - 1964; "The Thing of It Is..." - 1967; and "Father's Day" - 1971).


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Also: should "Jane Eyre" really be on this list? It, too, is a wonderful and tremendously important book, but it was written after (albeit published before) "The Professor," and also after "The Green Dwarf" (1833) and after the collection of poetry which the Bronte sisters (a/k/a Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell) had published in 1846.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Next question: What about Sylvia Plath's "Bell Jar"? It's her first (and only) novel, yes, but she'd published at least one collection of poetry before ("The Colossus," 1960).


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Should Torrents of Spring be on here? I was under the impression that Sun Also Rises was Hemingway's first novel.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) You're probably right -- I wasn't sure which one was published first (they're both from 1926), so I listed them both ... ;)


message 8: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Feb 28, 2010 01:20PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Hm. Good question. The blurb on Sun Also Rises says "first big novel," not first novel. So I dunno.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Torr...

"The Torrents of Spring is a novella written by Ernest Hemingway published in 1926. Hemingway's first novel, it was written as a parody of Sherwood Anderson. Subtitled "A Romantic Novel in Honor of the Passing of a Great Race" Hemingway used the work as a spoof of the world of writers.

The Torrents of Spring was Hemingway's first novel, though The Sun Also Rises was his first successful novel. Hemingway wrote The Torrents of Spring as means to cause his publisher, Horace Liveright of Boni & Liveright, to refuse publication.

(...)

According to the contract Boni and Liveright were to publish Hemingway's next three books, one of which was to be a novel, with the proviso that if a newly submitted work were to be rejected the contract would be terminated. Written in ten days, The Torrents of Spring was a satirical treatment of pretentious writers. Hemingway submitted the manuscript early in December 1925, and it was rejected by the end of the month. In January Max Perkins at Scribner's agreed to publish The Torrents of Spring in addition to Hemingway's future work."

And http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sun_... :

"In July 1925 Hemingway went to the San Fermin fiesta in Pamplona. It was his third visit to the fiesta and became the inspiration for The Sun Also Rises. (...) Hemingway realized the fiesta of 1925 was the stuff of a novel. He decided to use a first person narrator and began to write as soon as the fiesta ended. By September, about six weeks after beginning the novel, he was done with the first draft.

(...)

After he was finished with the first draft, in order to maintain perspective, he started work on a new manuscript. In the fall of 1925 Hemingway wrote the satiric novel The Torrents of Spring which his publisher immediately rejected. Within a month Charles Scribner's Sons agreed to publish both The Torrents of Spring and The Sun Also Rises."

So ... which one do we leave on the list -- "Torrents of Spring," or "Sun Also Rises," or both? I don't care one way or the other!


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I'd say leave them both on, as he seems to have written one first, but the second was published first? Weird case.


message 11: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Themis-Athena wrote: "Next question: What about Sylvia Plath's "Bell Jar"? It's her first (and only) novel, yes, but she'd published at least one collection of poetry before ("The Colossus," 1960)."

I think we should leave it on since poetry is such a different genre.

As to Jane Eyre, I'll leave that up to the experts.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Yeah, I agree on the poetry being a very different genre.

I'd say if we allow both Sun Also Rises/Torrents of Spring, we should allow both Jane Eyre/The Professor, under the same rule (or so it sounds to me).


message 13: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn FOOTNOTE: Heinlein's first-written novel, For Us the Living, was a lightly disguised lecture not published in his lifetime.


message 14: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn FOOTNOTE: The Stone Blaster, Henning Mankell's first novel, not available in English.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Susanna wrote: "Yeah, I agree on the poetry being a very different genre.

I'd say if we allow both Sun Also Rises/Torrents of Spring, we should allow both Jane Eyre/The Professor, under the same rule (or so it sounds to me)."


Fair comment on all of the above!


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Thom wrote: "FOOTNOTE: The Stone Blaster, Henning Mankell's first novel, not available in English."

But Goodreads has it in Swedish: Bergsprängaren (if that's the book you're looking for -- according to the English Wikipedia page for Mankell -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henning_... -- this is allegedly a play). The first book that Wiki is oddly listing as both a novel and a play is Vettvillingen (1977 -- translated as "The Maniac").


message 17: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Themis-Athena wrote: "Thom wrote: "FOOTNOTE: The Stone Blaster, Henning Mankell's first novel, not available in English."

But Goodreads has it in Swedish: Bergsprängaren (if that's the book you're looking ..."


You mean....Wikipedia has inaccurate information ? Hard to believe isn't it.


message 19: by Thom (new)

Thom Dunn Canary wrote: "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle was such a strange book. I am not sure about it being a great debut.
Alice"


Agreed, not a great book IMO, but maybe a great DEBUT, coming out with trumpets blaring, etc. Similarly, I'm for overlooking juveninalia and half-baked failures resurrected after the author made a serious debut.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Maybe he will do better next time. I did read it all and that says something. So many books I start and then put down like Strange Brew which I just have out from the library.

Agreed, not a great book IMO, but maybe a great DEBUT, coming out with trump..."


message 21: by ★ Jess (new)

★ Jess ARTEMIS FOWL is not a debut. Eoin Colfer had written many more books before that


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Removed:

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer.

Thanks for mentioning it, Booklover.


message 23: by Anne (new)

Anne Why are two Jane Austen books on this list? They can't both be debut novels.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) True. "Emma" (1815) was Austen's fourth novel, not her first. "Sense and Sensibility" (1811) was her first book to be published (though not the first thing she ever wrote).

Therefore, removed "Emma."


message 25: by Anne (new)

Anne Wow, you moved quickly on that. Much happier now that Austen has only one debut novel just like all other writers.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

The Ballad of Young Tam Lin (fantasy romance).
https://www.createspace.com/3661637 (or as a Kindle). Couldn't put it down (in fact, just reread it.) Humor, romance, fantasy, jeopardy, all in a package of great writing.


message 27: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I don't think the Hunger Games was Suzanne Collins' first book.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Sarah Pi wrote: "I don't think the Hunger Games was Suzanne Collins' first book."

Yes -- I think it's predated by several, if not all of her Underland Chronicles books ...


message 29: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Do I as the creator of the list have the power to remove books from the list, or does it have to be a librarian?


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Should work for the list creator as well.

(If you click on the link that takes you to the "edit" page (at the end of the list description), you should see another link on that page that says "remove particular books." Clicking on that link will take you to another version of the list with the option to remove individual books.)

If it doesn't work for you, let me know and I'll be happy to help out.


message 31: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Thanks! I'll try that.


message 32: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Hmm...it lets me edit the list info but not the contents of the list.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) I removed it.


message 34: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Thanks!


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) You're welcome. I also took the liberty of removing Meyer's "The Host," btw, which most certainly is not a debut, either ...


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Yeah, it requires a librarian, not just the list-creator, unfortunately.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Susanna wrote: "Yeah, it requires a librarian, not just the list-creator, unfortunately."

Seems a bit unfair, doesn't it? If not the list creator, then who should have control over the list's contents?


message 38: by Sarah (new)

Sarah The edit page said "If you have reached this page you have been granted temporary librarian status" or something like that, and then offered me the opportunity to edit the title and explanation of the list, but nothing more. Junior librarian :)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I'll confess that one of my major motivations for becoming a librarian was so that I could remove "wha?" books from lists I had started. (Thomas Hardy did not write about Tudor England, people!)


message 40: by Sarah (new)

Sarah I like how Twilight and Hunger Games and Harry Potter mysteriously appear on nearly every single list, regardless of the topic.


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

Self-replicating literary meme?


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Karl wrote: "Self-replicating literary meme?"

So it would appear ...

Susanna wrote: "I'll confess that one of my major motivations for becoming a librarian was so that I could remove "wha?" books from lists I had started. (Thomas Hardy did not write about Tudor England, people!)"

Yes, true, I do recall that that was actually one of my motivations as well ... after having had to rely on the generosity of librarians (chiefly among them, yourself) for doing all my cleanup work for me! Still, one would expect GR to allow everyone to keep tabs on their OWN lists at least, wouldn't one? Even if they choose not to become librarians and help out in other areas, too ...


message 43: by Ben (last edited Sep 08, 2012 11:13AM) (new)

Ben The list description is confusing: "Great Debut Novels: the best first book by an author." Which one is it? First novel or first book? Take the example of James Joyce. His first book was the short story collection Dubliners, but his first novel was A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

I assume we're going with "first novel," as that's the way everyone else is voting. I'm just anal about imprecise language.


message 44: by Melinda Jane (new)

Melinda Jane  Harrison Some of these books are not debut books, so I would not vote on them one way or another.


message 45: by Caroline (new)

Caroline The Thirteenth Tale is listed twice--once on the first page, and once on one of the later pages, I think page 7 or 8.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I combined duplicates; that should have gotten it.


message 47: by Xenophon (new)

Xenophon Hendrix My opinion: the list should go with first published novel no matter how many other novels or different types of non-novel writing the author did beforehand. For one, sometimes authors have to write many novels before they break into print. Once they become successful, the publishers clean out their trunks. Two, different writing requires different skill sets. Novels aren't plays, short stories, or textbooks. Each one is its own learning curve.


message 48: by Booklovinglady (new)

Booklovinglady Melinda Jane wrote: "Some of these books are not debut books, so I would not vote on them one way or another."

I had my doubts about some as well.


message 49: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl If you see some that are not debut novels, identify the title and author (use the add book/author links) and what page it's on so a librarian can delete it.


message 50: by Booklovinglady (last edited Feb 02, 2015 12:31AM) (new)

Booklovinglady Lobstergirl wrote: "If you see some that are not debut novels, identify the title and author (use the add book/author links) and what page it's on so a librarian can delete it."

I tried checking to see if the ones I doubted (can't remember which ones they were) were actually debut novels, but couldn't find anything to say they either were or weren't. Which is why I just left them on the list.

I'm fully sure about the three I voted for though :-)


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