February’s Fabulous Fiction Debuts

February 4, 2011

The publishing industry being what it is these days, makes the obstacles to becoming a new author more daunting than ever. It certainly piques our interest to see, then, what new authors are deemed sufficiently heavenly to join the ranks of possible best-sellers. This February has a plethora of fiction debuts sufficient to make the worst winter weather disappear from our thoughts as we are carried aloft on these new authors’ wings.  The debuts below, all available at the Essex Library when published, have won high praise from critics and early readers alike; place a hold by clicking on the title, etc.

Adults by Alison Espach
In her ruefully funny and wickedly perceptive debut novel, Alison Espach deftly dissects matters of the heart and captures the lives of children and adults as they come to terms with life, death, and love.
At the center of this affluent suburban universe is Emily Vidal, a smart and snarky teenager, who gets involved in a suspect relationship with one of the adults after witnessing a suicide in her neighborhood. Among the cast of unforgettable characters is Emily’s father, whose fiftieth birthday party has the adults descending upon the Vidal’s patio; her mother, who has orchestrated the elaborate party even though she and her husband are getting a divorce; and an assortment of eccentric neighbors, high school teachers, and teenagers who teem with anxiety and sexuality and an unbridled desire to be noticed, and ultimately loved. An irresistible chronicle of a modern young woman’s struggle to grow up, The Adults lays bare—in perfect pitch—a world where an adult and a child can so dangerously be mistaken for the same exact thing.

Journal Of A UFO Investigator by David Halperin
Against the backdrop of the troubled 1960s, this coming-of-age novel weaves together a compelling psychological drama and vivid outer space fantasy. Danny Shapiro is an isolated teenager living with a dying mother, a hostile father, and without friends.  To cope, Danny forges a reality of his own, which includes the sinister “Three Men in Black,” mysterious lake creatures with insect-like carapaces, a beautiful young seductress and thief with whom Danny falls in love, and an alien/human love child who—if only Danny can keep her alive—will redeem the planet. As Danny’s fictional world blends seamlessly with his day-to-day life, profound questions about what is real and what is imagined begin to arise.  As the hero in his alien landscape, will Danny find the strength to deal with his real life, to stand up to demons both real and imagined? Told with heart, humor, and intellect, Journal of a UFO Investigator will delight readers through every twist and turn and leave them wanting more from this remarkable new voice.

We, The Drowned by Carsten Jensen
Carsten Jensen’s debut novel has taken the world by storm. Already hailed in Europe as an instant classic, We, the Drowned is the story of the port town of Marstal, whose inhabitants have sailed the world’s oceans aboard freight ships for centuries. Spanning over a hundred years, from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War, and from the barren rocks of Newfoundland to the lush plantations of Samoa, from the roughest bars in Tasmania, to the frozen coasts of northern Russia, We, the Drowned spins a magnificent tale of love, war, and adventure, a tale of the men who go to sea and the women they leave behind.

Ships are wrecked at sea and blown up during wars, they are places of terror and violence, yet they continue to lure each generation of Marstal men—fathers and sons—away. Strong, resilient, women raise families alone and sometimes take history into their own hands. There are cannibals here, shrunken heads, prophetic dreams, forbidden passions, cowards, heroes, devastating tragedies, and miraculous survivals—everything that a town like Marstal has actually experienced, and that makes We, the Drowned an unforgettable novel, destined to take its place among the greatest seafaring literature.

The Oracle Of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas
Set in the heart of the exotic Ottoman Empire during the first years of its chaotic decline, Michael David Lukas’ elegantly crafted, utterly enchanting debut novel follows a gifted young girl who dares to charm a sultan—and change the course of history, for the empire and the world. An enthralling literary adventure, perfect for readers entranced by the mixture of historical fiction and magical realism in Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red, or Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Lukas’ evocative tale of prophesy, intrigue, and courage unfolds with the subtlety of a Turkish mosaic and the powerful majesty of an epic for the ages.

Delirious by Daniel Palmer
In Daniel Palmer’s blistering, fast-paced debut, one man is taken to the edge of sanity in a mind-bending novel of paranoia, deception, and revenge. . . Charlie Giles is at the top of his game. An electronics superstar, he’s sold his startup company to a giant Boston firm, where he’s now a senior director. With his dog, Monte, at his side, Charlie is treated like a VIP everywhere he goes. Then one day, everything in Charlie’s neatly ordered world starts to go terrifyingly wrong. His prestigious job and his inventions are wrenched away from him. His family is targeted, and his former employers are dying gruesomely, picked off one by one. Every sign, every shred of evidence, points to Charlie as a cold-blooded killer. And soon Charlie is unable to tell whether he’s succumbed to the pressures of work and become the architect of his own destruction., or whether he’s the victim of a relentless, diabolical attack. In a desperate struggle to save his life, Charlie races to uncover the truth, all the while realizing that nothing can be trusted–least of all his own fractured mind.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
A blazingly original debut novel that takes us back to the swamps of the Florida Everglades, and introduces us to Ava Bigtree, an unforgettable young heroine. The Bigtree alligator-wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, formerly #1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Ava¿s mother, the park¿s indomitable headliner, has just died; her sister, Ossie, has fallen in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, who may or may not be an actual ghost; and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, who dreams of becoming a scholar, has just defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their family business from going under. Ava¿s father, affectionately known as Chief Bigtree, is AWOL; and that leaves Ava, a resourceful but terrified thirteen, to manage ninety-eight gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief. Against a backdrop of hauntingly fecund plant life animated by ancient lizards and lawless hungers, Karen Russell has written an utterly singular novel about a family¿s struggle to stay afloat in a world that is inexorably sinking. An arrestingly beautiful and inventive work from a vibrant new voice in fiction.

The Dangerous Edge of Things by Tina Whittle
Tai Randolph thinks inheriting a Confederate-themed gun shop is her biggest headache — until she finds a murdered corpse in her brother’s driveway. Even worse, her supposedly respectable brother begins behaving in decidedly non-innocent ways, like fleeing to the Bahamas and leaving her with both a homicide in her lap and the pointed suspicions of the Atlanta PD directed her way. Suddenly, she has to worry about clearing her own name, not just that of her wayward sibling.

This book is a debut of the Tai Randolph Mystery series.

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