Loved 'Such a Fun Age'? Here Are 7 More Debut Novels to Read in 2020
There are a great many things that 2020 hasn't been good for. And let's definitely not talk about them right now. But one good thing that 2020 has given us in abundance is thrilling, page-turning, lose-yourself-in-the-story debut novels by first-time authors.
It started with the release of Kiley Reid's Such A Fun Age in February, which has since been longlisted for the Booker Prize, one of literature's greatest accolades. Reid's debut novel tells the story of a clash between a mum and her young Black nanny, and received rave reviews from critics and celebrities alike (media mogul Reese Witherspoon and podcaster-author Pandora Sykes among them). There's a good chance you've read it in a book club, or had it recommended by a friend, or seen it pop up in someone's highly curated Instagram account, and we're definitely guilty of talking about Such A Fun Age a lot on our Reads. by Bed Threads. Facebook book club.
But Such A Fun Age isn't the only debut novel released this year that deserves your attention. Here are some of the other books from first-time authors that we're loving right now.
A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu
In Jessie Tu's debut novel, the main character Jena is former child prodigy violinist by day and a sex addict by night. These two halves of her make the whole picture: Jena is searching for connection and staving off loneliness. Set in both Sydney and Melbourne, A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing has been hailed as the perfect book for anyone who loves Sally Rooney or Ottessa Moshfegh. It's a book about female desire, sexuality and what happens when we start to realise that we can't always get what we want.
Kokomo by Victoria Hannan
The origin story of this novel is epic: Melbourne-based author Victoria Hannan was out at karaoke one night when someone sang "Kokomo" by The Beach Boys. So she got to thinking… What is that song actually about? Is it about paradise? Is it about home? Is it about how we make homes for ourselves, and who we choose to make them with? This book attempts to answer those questions through the story of Mina, an Australian woman living in London who catches the first flight home after learning that her agoraphobic mother has been spotted outside the house for the first time in years. There's a lot of wit, wisdom and warmth in this book, which is also an ode to Melbourne summers, friendship and what it's really like to love somebody for as long as you both shall live.
Olive by Emma Gannon
You might know Emma Gannon already, courtesy of her chart-topping careers podcast Ctrl Alt Delete or her non fiction life advice book The Multi-Hyphen Method, about how to juggle many projects and jobs at the same time while getting your work done. Olive is her first novel, and it's a book about four friends in their 30s who have started thinking about having kids. This is a story about both wanting and not wanting to have children, a subject that is explored generously and gently in this very empathetic book.
The Morbids by Ewa Ramsey
Set for release in September, The Morbids is a debut novel by Australian author Ewa Ramsey. Its main character, Caitlin, miraculously escapes death in a near-fatal car accident, with the ensuing shock and grief cleaving her world in two. To cope, she joins a support group for people suffering from death-related anxiety. When her best friend sets a wedding date, Caitlin is forced to finally overcome her fear of dying and reenter the world of the living. This book is the ultimate comfort read, and a reminder that life is the biggest adventure of all.
Poly by Paul Dalgarno
Melbourne-based Scottish writer Paul Dalgarno's debut novel is about polyamory, or, rather, ethical non monogamy. Couple Chris and Sarah decide to try it out in attempt to save their marriage, and what follows is a riotous read. Poly is a smart, sexy and thrilling story set in familiar Melbourne suburbs about making a modern marriage, and a modern family, work.
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
You might know TV personality Richard Osman from his appearances on UK panel shows, or his hosting gigs on BBC series Pointless. Now, he's written his first novel, and it's a good one. The Thursday Murder Club is a crime novel for anyone who grew up on Agatha Christie and Midsomer Murders. It's a mystery set in a peaceful retirement village where four almost-septuagenarians get together every week to investigate unsolved murders, until they wake up to discover a crime has taken place in their own backyard. Do they have what it takes to solve a real murder with very real stakes? Winning and engaging and very, very funny, Osman's book is one to add to your To Buy or Borrow list.
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
Dolly Alderton is already be a bestseller, courtesy of her popular memoir Everything I Know About Love, and her debut novel is one to get excited about. Ghosts follows Nina Dean, a food writer dealing with ghosts in all aspects of her life: her disappearing friends, the men on dating apps leaving her on read, and her father's devastating dementia diagnosis. If you love the way that Alderton writes—with her whole heart laid bare on the page—you're going to love this book.
Need more reads? Here are our favourite books that made the Booker Longlist in 2020.