7 highly anticipated debut novels to check out this spring

This spring, many writers are hoping to make a splash with their first novels.
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It’s shaping up to be yet another busy season for publishers and bookworms, with the next few months bringing new novels by literary stalwarts like Nathan Englander, Ann Beattie, Karen Russell and Brian Evenson.

But there’s quite a few neophytes hoping to make a splash with their first novels too, so if you’re looking for a brand new voice, you’re in luck. Here are seven debut novels coming out this spring to check out:

“White Elephant,” Julie Langsdorf (March 26): If you’ve spent any time on the social media website Nextdoor, you know that neighborhoods are teeming with quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) resentments and bitter turf wars. The debut comic novel from Washington, D.C., author Langsdorf focuses on residents of a suburb locked in an angry fight about the construction of a new large house that some neighbors find too gaudy for their tastes.


“Lights All Night Long,” Lydia Fitzpatrick (April 2): Los Angeles writer Fitzpatrick’s first novel has drawn praise from fellow authors Anthony Marra and R.O. Kwon. It tells the story of young Russian exchange student in Louisiana intent on proving the innocence of his older brother, who has been falsely implicated in the murders of three women in their hometown. Fitzpatrick will also be appearing April 13 at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

“The Ash Family,” Molly Dektar (April 9): North Carolina-born Dektar sets her first novel in her home state, following a young woman named Berie who joins an “intentional community” in the mountains. Things seem to go well at first until people she befriends at the farm start to go missing.

The Unpassing,” Chia-Chia Lin (May 7): Bay Area author Lin has drawn praise for her debut novel, which tells the story of a family of immigrants from Taiwan living in Anchorage. When one of their children dies of meningitis and the father is sued over a near-fatal plumbing accident, the family struggles to stay together in the face of tragedy.

Riots I Have Known,” Ryan Chapman (May 21): The editor of a prison literary magazine attempts to explain how he’s not responsible for a jailhouse riot in this comic debut from New York author Chapman. Sam Lipsyte called the novel “tender, cruel, profane, wildly inventive and, finally, unforgettable.”

“In West Mills,” De’Shawn Charles Winslow (June 4): Set in mid-20th-century North Carolina, the first novel from New York author Winslow tells the story of the friendship between Azalea “Knot” Centre, a free-spirited woman, and her neighbor Otis Lee, a man dealing with problems in his own family.

“On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” Ocean Vuong (June 4): One of the most anticipated books of the year is this debut novel from critically acclaimed poet Vuong, which takes the form of a son’s letter to his illiterate mother about their family’s history and his own life. Author Marlon James praised the novel as “a powerful testimony to magic and loss.”