Julie Owen Moylan’s debut novel That Green Eyed Girl, set between the 1950s and 1970s, is an evocative page-turner about jealousy, loyalty and the secrets we keep to protect those we love. Drawn to women’s history, she tells the stories of complicated people at complicated times – those who don’t conform to social pressures. Mental health, sexuality, infatuation, first love and first heartbreak – above all it’s about a very human need to connect with people and be understood. Author Louise Hare’s debut novel This Lovely City was published in 2020.
Supported by Hawthornden Literary Retreat
Something gleeful and malevolent is moving in Lia’s body. It’s learning her life from the inside. It shape-shifts down the banks of her canals, leaks through her tissue, nooks and nodes. It taps her trachea like the bones of a xylophone. It’s spreading. When Lia finds out that her cancer is back, she tries to keep the landscapes of her past, her present and her body separate; for the sake of Iris, her daughter, and for her husband, Harry, desperate to keep their lives flourishing. But bodies are porous, unpredictable places… As Lia’s condition worsens, the narrator inside her strengthens; the boundaries between her past, her present and her body begin to leak and spill.
Maddie Mortimer’s accomplished debut novel is a story of coming-of-age at the end of a life. Utterly heartbreaking yet darkly funny, it’s a symphonic journey through one woman’s body: a wild and lyrical celebration of desire, forgiveness and the darkness within us all. She talks to Sarah Moss, Women's Prize-shortlisted author of Ghost Wall and Summerwater.
A debut brimful of the music and movement of multicultural London, to stand beside White Teeth, Brick Lane and The Buddha of Suburbia. The stories in We Move are set in London, but chart a wider narrative about the movement of multiple generations of immigrants. In acts of startling imagination, Gurnaik Johal brings together the past and the present, the local and the global, to show the surprising ways we come together.
Beneath the planes circling Heathrow, various lives connect. Priti speaks English and her nani Punjabi. Without Priti’s mum around they struggle to make a shared language. Not far away, Chetan and Aanshi’s relationship shifts when a woman leaves her car in their drive but never returns to collect it. Gujan’s baba steps out of his flat above the chicken shop for the first time in years to take his grandson on a bicycle tour of the old and changed neighbourhood. And returning home after dropping out of university, Lata grapples with a secret about her estranged family friend, now a chart-topping rapper in a crisis of confidence.
Dublin, 7 October 2019. One day, one city, two women: Ruth and Pen. Neither known to the other, but both asking themselves the same questions: how to be with others and how, when the world doesn't seem willing to make space for them, to be with themselves? Ruth’s marriage to Aidan is in crisis. Today she needs to make a choice – to stay or not to stay, to take the risk of reaching out, or to pull up the drawbridge. For teenage Pen, today is the day the words will flow, and she will speak her truth to Alice, to ask for what she so desperately wants.
Deeply involving, Ruth & Pen is a portrait of the limits of grief and love, of how we navigate our inner and outer landscapes, and the tender courage demanded by the simple, daily quest of living.
Emilie Pine is Professor of Modern Drama at University College Dublin, Ireland. Her first collection of personal essays Notes to Self won the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year Award, and Book of the Year 2018 at the Irish Book Awards.
Pandora is set in London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle. But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason. Stokes-Chapman talks to classicist Natalie Haynes about her debut novel.
Zillah has left behind the shadowy slums of St Giles to become the star of Stratton’s Variety Show, cast as ‘The Great Amazonia’. When a new act is introduced – a black woman with vitiligo exhibited as the ‘The Leopard Lady’ – Zillah is forced to confront the dark side of her profession. Featuring a defiant heroine and a theatrical world of fragile dreams and ruthless ambition, Dillsworth’s book shines a light on the experience of being Black and British in Victorian London through one woman’s journey to live her life on her own terms. She talks to author of The Foundling Stacey Halls.
Paddy Crewe presents his brilliantly original debut to author and critic Erica Wagner. It is 1815 in a small town in Georgia, when Yip Tolroy – mute and a social outcast – is born. His mother struggles to manage his needs, leaving Yip to find his own way in a hostile environment. He begins to transform his life by learning to read and write, his portal into the community a piece of slate and supply of chalk. At 15, his life is altered irrevocably when he witnesses the discovery of gold and commits a grievous crime that leaves him with no choice but to flee. Thrust into a world of violence, Yip and his unlikely comrade Dud are forced to leave town and embark on an odyssey across the wonder and horror of the American frontier.
Moses McKenzie’s searing debut novel paints a portrait of harsh life on the streets and futures overturned. Sayon Hughes, a young Black man from Easton, Bristol, dreams of a world far removed from the one in which he was raised. Removed from the crooked solutions his community embraces, and from the Christianity of his uncaring parents. Growing up, he found respite from chaos in the loyalty of his brother-in-arms, Cuba; in the example of his cousin Hakim, once an infamous drug-dealer, now a proselytising Muslim; and in the tenderness of his love, Shona. Sayon wants to give the people he loves everything they could wish for, but after an altercation in which a boy is killed, his dream of a better life is in peril. McKenzie talks to writer Nikesh Shukla (The Good Immigrant).
A love story and a ghost story set in modern day Trinidad, this debut work is rich with magic and wisdom, alive with a fresh, modern sensibility. The author weaves a story of loss and renewal, darkness and light; a triumphant reckoning with a grief that runs back generations and a defiant, joyful affirmation of hope. Ayanna Lloyd Banwo talks to Trinidadian-born British writer and memoirist Monique Roffey.
It is 1938 in China, and the Japanese are advancing. A young mother, Meilin, is forced to flee her burning city with her four-year-old son, Renshu. For comfort, they take their most treasured possession, a beautifully illustrated hand scroll, whose ancient fables offer solace as they travel. Years later, Renshu has settled in America. His daughter is desperate to understand her heritage, but he refuses to talk about his childhood. Based on the life of Melissa’s father and on her own attempts to understand her Chinese heritage, this debut novel spans continents in a bold exploration of the history of modern China. Fu talks to Helena Lee, founder/editor of East Side Voices and Features Director of Harper’s Bazaar.