One of the most fulfilling prospects of being a writer is publishing your first work. For those who can relate, when I was an English undergrad, nothing excited me more than knowing that people might actually want to read, let alone buy, my work one day.
I am always on the prowl for a great new book to read, and so it’s always a delight to find a book by first-timers—these little discoveries have been the ray of light and silver lining of hope in my tunneled life as a freelancer over the years.
See which writers with debuts are breaking onto the literary scene with their new book this month.
Angie Kim, Miracle Creek
Angie Kim moved as a preteen from Seoul, South Korea, to the suburbs of Baltimore. She attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, then practiced as a trial lawyer at Williams & Connolly. Her stories have won the Glamour Essay Contest and the Wabash Prize in Fiction, and appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, Salon, Slate, The Southern Review, Sycamore Review, The Asian American Literary Review, and PANK. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and three sons.
Miracle Creek, in a nutshell: A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son. (Amazon, $16.17)
My two cents: Kim’s debut hits two soft spots for me — for being described a “literary courtroom drama” and for its concern of autistic children. (My little brother is autistic.) Two very interesting components I’m sure will grip any reader to these pages.
Erin Somers, Stay Up with Hugo Best
Erin Somers’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House Open Bar, Ploughshares, American Short Fiction, McSweeney’s, the Cincinnati Review, and many other publications. She holds an MFA from the University of New Hampshire and was a 2016 NYC Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellow and a 2016 Millay Colony resident. She lives in Beacon, New York with her husband and daughter.
Stay Up with Hugo Best, in a nutshell: An incredibly timely, terrifically witty and moving debut about a young writer’s assistant on a late-night comedy show and what transpires when she accepts an invitation from its enigmatic host to spend a long weekend at his mansion in Connecticut. (Amazon, $17.10)
My two cents: I purchased this one after hearing so many comparisons being made to My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which is the exact liking that led me to read The New Me last month. So, I’m prepared for whatever Somers has in store.
Emily Skaja, Brute
Emily Skaja was born and raised in rural Illinois. Her first book, Brute, won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Emily is the recipient of a 2019-2020 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Purdue University and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Cincinnati, where she was a Taft Summer Research Fellow and also earned a certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her poems have been published in Best New Poets, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, FIELD, and Gulf Coast, among other journals. She is the Poetry Co-Editor of Southern Indiana Review. She lives in Memphis.
Brute, in a nutshell: A debut poetry collection that challenges notions of gender, violence, and sexuality. (Amazon, $7.00)
My two cents: I encountered Skaja’s debut poetry collection last year while flipping through Graywolf’s Spring 2019. After reading “No, I Do Not Want to Connect With You on LinkedIn” and “Elegy for R,” I knew I needed more of Skaja’s writing urgently. (Just imagine I’m tearing through the pages of Brute as I type this.)