I would cheer for budding writers, each of whom has taken the thrilling but terrifying step of putting their words to the world. You have poured your heart and soul into pages and pages and made a real volume, but no one has heard of you yet. Amidst the flood of new books every year, new voices fight to be heard. Some don’t find their readers, but some go all the way – top smog points to whoever watched Douglas Stuart’s debut film Shugi Bane before 2020 Booker was caught.
It’s a great year for book lovers, with a number of top fiction and non-fiction titles coming our way. But where are the great debuts? We’ve read through the cream of the crop and found six new writers we have a great feeling about.
This divine debut from art critic and academic James Cahill is the smart, sexy read you need in 2022. Expect to see it on the award lists as well as the Instagram feed. The protagonist of the novel is Professor Don Lamb, a precocious but prematurely loaded art historian, and a Cambridge don who likes to measure the skies in the paintings of the Venetian master Tiepolo. When a Tracey Emin-esque bed sculpture is installed outside her college residence, and departs for London for a new museum gig, Lamb commits an unnatural crime. A new kind of awakening awaits—and it’s not just because the YBAs are on the move. Not only an addictive page turner, Cahill’s book taps into the tension and doubt among generations that feel incredibly relevant to our tough times. (Scepter, June 9)
Tiffany Filippo has had a moderate career working with start-ups and entrepreneurs, and is it working? Podcast about the future of work with journalist Anna Codria-Rado. But her first book, Totally Fine (And Other Lies I Told Myself), is surprisingly personal — what it was like to lose her boyfriend Richard to suicide in 2008, when she was still in university, and the decade of herself — the silence that followed. . Clear and highly readable, his book creates an important space to talk about loss and mental health, and in particular how it affects loved ones. But it’s also a broadly relatable tale of dizzy, chaotic twentieth-century life: the pressures of succeeding and finding a way to never miss a party, no matter what you’re doing in the background. (source, March 17)
Ask your parents and grandparents about their lives first! You never know what they might tell you. For Alex Hyde, the extraordinary story of his father’s maternal grandmother and adoptive grandmother—who had the same name—became his first novel. However, calling it a novel doesn’t add much to the uniqueness of its look and voice. It should come as no surprise that Hyde once worked with Max Porter as a bookseller—his work is a clear influence on the shimmering poetry of his prose, and the way words move about the page. Its hypnotic effect means it’s hard to read in one go, and its accumulated power will leave you sobbing till the end. (Grand, February 3)
You may already know Obioma Ugoala from his starring roles in West End. He’s currently playing the only character who knows how to dress for the season in Frozen, a.k.a. romantic hero Kristoff, and previously played a role in the original West End cast of Hamilton thanks to his performance as George Washington. has received praise for. But her agenda-setting first book, The Problem with My Normal Penis: Myths of Race, Sex and Masculinity, will bring her into the limelight in a new way. In his curious memoir, he subtly traces where his expectations of race and masculinity meet, unheard and challenging his past experiences of prejudice. His personal stories are told within the context of a wider culture, and the book is a compassionate rally to become more aware. (Scribner, March 31)
Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, is the kind of woman who knows a thing or two about what makes a page-turner, and has described Nikki May’s debut film Wahla as “undeniable”. But she’s not the only one who thinks so – this cool, funny, and gripping tale about three mixed-race friends in London had a crowd of early readers, and was already slated for the screen, according to Roux writer Theresa. Ikoko wrote the screenplay. May came up with the idea for the book after a long, chatty lunch with friends at home on the train, and so Ronke, Simi and Boo were born. But ‘Vahla’ means ‘trouble’ in English and trouble comes in the form of Isobel, Simi’s old friend. In an interview, May said she wanted to write “a brown sex in town, or a brown big little lie” – we assume she could be as big. (Transworld, out now)
Sophia Smith Galer
Vice journalist Sophia Smith Geller won a British Press Award last year for pioneering use of TikTok as a tool for reporting and news gathering. He’s set to make more waves this year with his first book, Losing It: Sex Education for the 21st Century, an investigation into why sex education is so terrible in this country. Through her research, she found that young people are often looking to the hazy world of the Internet to fill in their knowledge gaps, further embedding myths and misinformation. Shelley Makes the Case for Powerful Sex Education That’s Appropriate, Teaching Teenagers About Communication, Consent and Gender Equality—It’s the Kind of Book That Makes You Wonder, ‘Why Wasn’t It Written Before Was?’ This can be life changing. (HarperCollins, April 14)