January 2019 Debut Authors: Laura Sims, Maurice Carlos Ruffin + Chris Power

Best Debut Authors January 2019: Laura Sims, Maurice Carlos Ruffin + Chris Power

You Oughta Read is a monthly feature which exhibits anticipated debut books by bright, rising literary talents, edited by Editor-in-Chief Paris Close.

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.

Chris Power, Mothers

Chris Power lives and works in London. His “Brief Survey of the Short Story” has appeared in the Guardian since 2007. His fiction has been published in The Stinging Fly, The Dublin Review and The White Review. Mothers is his first book.


Mothers, in a nutshell: A debut story collection of trauma, grief, self-discovery, and characters forever on the edge of an existential crisis. (Amazon, $16.73)

My two cents: I read this title toward the latter end of 2018 — courtesy of our friends at FSG — and I can say, even as a debut, Mothers has some of the most paralyzing, cliff-hanging final pages to a story that will leave you in a fit of tears and rage. Power’s tales are so keen and magnificent at once — hold on tight.

Laura Sims, Looker

Laura Sims is the author of Looker, a debut novel. She has published four books of poetry, most recently Staying Alive, and is the editor of Fare Forward: Letters from David Markson. She lives outside of New York City with her family.


Looker, in a nutshell: An intense, page-turning debut novel that sees one woman’s celebrity obsession drive her to the brink. (Amazon, $14.13)

My two cents: A protagonist as morbidly obsessed with celebrities as I am — and with a grim plot twist? Pass it over to me, please!

Maurice Carlos Ruffin, We Cast a Shadow

Maurice Carlos Ruffin has been a recipient of an Iowa Review Award in fiction and a winner of the William Faulkner–William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for Novel-in-Progress. His work has appeared in Virginia Quarterly ReviewAGNIThe Kenyon ReviewThe Massachusetts Review, and Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. A native of New Orleans, Ruffin is a graduate of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop and a member of the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance.


We Cast a Shadow, in a nutshell: A black father goes to extreme lengths to protect his biracial son — even if that means turning him white. (Amazon, $17.70)

My two cents: Get Out, in book form? FORK IT OVER NOW! And by a black writer, no less—I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy!

These are just a few debuts we can’t wait for you to read!

Which debut author are you excited to check out this month?

Paris Close
the authorParis Close
Founding Editor. Give me Gillian Flynn or give me death.