Top 10 Best Debut Novels of the Decade

As 2020 approaches it is time to look at the top ten lists. Here is the Top Ten best debut novels of the decade according to LitHub and yes your local library can connect you to them!

Do you have any favourites that you think have been missed?

The Tiger's Wife

Winner of the Uk’s Orange Prize this novel is a gritty portrait of an unnamed Balkan country recovering from civil war.  A story of family, and a story about a story.  This was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist of the UK National Book Award.

We Need New Names

This is a story about a young women, Darling, who is always looking for home.  From Zimbabwean shantytown called Paradise through a migrants journey to ‘Destroyed Michigan’ this is an Africa to an unrecognisable America journey.

The Sympathizer

Winner of both the Pulitzer prize and the Edgar Award this is a book to make literary history.  Set in South Vietnam, this is a story of a double agent who spied for  North Vietnam and covers all aspects of the Vietnamese conflict.  Themes of identity, exile, culture, history are all beautifully explored in this renowned novel.

What Belongs to You

Described as ‘the best first novel I’ve read in a decade’ by The Guardian’s Andrew Solomon, this novel explores the relationships and friendships between men and sons and fathers.  The writing is described as luminous, mesmerizing and many more superlatives.  So a definite must read.

Here Comes the Sun

This brilliant, hilarious Jamaican novel covers colorism, homophobia, social mobility, pervasive tourism, women’s bodies and much more.  All with wit and a delicious subversive undercurrent.

Lincoln in the Bardo

My review can be found here

Conversations With Friends

A novel about friendship, love and contemporary life all told through conversations, texts, emails, and instant messages.  Friendships, betrayals, growing up and growing apart all feature in this exploration of what it means to be friends today.

There There

This novel centres around 12 different Native Americans living in and around Oakland and won just about everything for debut novels when it was published,  Gripping, tense, and while bleak it is beautifully articulate on such weighty themes as identity, culture and desire. Simply put it is very very good!


A dystopian novel exploring the world of survivors after Shen Fever strikes New York City which turns them into almost boring zombies.  Candace stays when everyone else flees and starts blogging about the decimation of the City.  At once a funny, creepy critique of capitalism it also explores nostalgia, the myth of family stories and religion.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

This is speculative fiction at it s best and Jemisin has gone on to commercial and critical success. Winner of the Hugo Award for Best novel three years in a row you definitely need to start with her debut novel. 

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