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2024 New Review: The Best New British and Irish Debuts

2024 New Review: The Best New British and Irish Debuts

Elizabeth O’Connor: Whale Fall (Picador, 25 April)

In the isolated island community of Bardsey, off the coast of Wales, Elizabeth O’Connor’s exquisite debut novel, Whale Fall, unfolds on the eve of World War II. Through the eyes of young Evelyn, we witness the resilience and complexities of a community facing impending change.

Colin Barrett: Wild Houses (Jonathan Cape, 25 January)

Colin Barrett’s Wild Houses is a darkly comical tale set in rural Ireland. A gangland kidnapping takes center stage, and the story delves into the violent yet humorous underbelly of the region. Barrett’s Irish roots and upbringing greatly influence the novel’s distinct tone.

Elle Machray: Remember, Remember (HarperNorth, 29 February)

Based on a true story, Elle Machray’s Remember, Remember is a cautionary tale of resilience and justice. Delphine, a determined woman, fights tirelessly to free her enslaved brother through the British court system. Inspired by the real-life Somerset v Stewart case of 1772, the novel sheds light on historical struggles for freedom.

Nicolas Padamsee: England Is Mine (Serpent’s Tail, 11 April)

Nicolas Padamsee’s England Is Mine is a politically charged coming-of-age thriller. Anglo-Iranian student David finds himself at odds with his peers due to his loyalty to a controversial singer-songwriter. As he delves deeper into the world of online neo-Nazism, David must confront his own identity and beliefs.

Kaliane Bradley: The Ministry of Time (Sceptre, 14 May)

Kaliane Bradley’s The Ministry of Time is a genre-bending blend of wit and wonder. Victorian polar explorer Graham Gore finds himself transported to contemporary London as part of a government-run time-travel experiment. The novel explores themes of displacement, identity, and the complexities of time.

Leo Vardiashvili: Hard By a Great Forest (Bloomsbury, 30 January)

Leo Vardiashvili’s poignant and often humorous novel, Hard By a Great Forest, follows Saba, a young Georgian man living in London. Upon returning to his homeland, Saba uncovers the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his father and brother. The story delves into the complexities of family, loss, and the search for truth.

Andrés N Ordorica: How We Named the Stars (Saraband, 4 July)

Andrés N Ordorica’s How We Named the Stars breathes new life into the campus novel genre. Daniel, a scholarship student at Cayuga University, finds himself caught in a web of love, friendship, and self-discovery. The novel explores the challenges and triumphs of navigating life as a young adult in the digital age.

Harriet Constable: The Instrumentalist (Bloomsbury, 15 August)

In Harriet Constable’s immersive and passionate novel, The Instrumentalist, Anna Maria’s musical talent both empowers and endangers her. Set against the backdrop of 18th-century London, the story delves into the world of classical music and the sacrifices artists make to pursue their passion.

Amy Twigg: Spoilt Creatures (Tinder Press, 6 June)

Amy Twigg’s lyrical and perceptive debut, Spoilt Creatures, explores themes of love, loss, and female friendship. Iris, the protagonist, finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Hazel and follows her to an all-female commune. The novel delves into the complexities of relationships and the search for belonging.

Tom Lamont: Going Home (Sceptre, 6 June)

Tom Lamont’s heartwarming comedy, Going Home, centers around two old friends, Téo and Ben. When Téo returns home to check on his ailing father, he finds himself unexpectedly in charge of his late classmate’s two-year-old son. The novel explores the challenges and rewards of friendship, family, and unexpected life changes.

These captivating debuts from British and Irish authors offer a diverse range of stories, genres, and perspectives. From historical fiction to contemporary thrillers, these novels showcase the immense talent emerging from the literary landscapes of the UK and Ireland. Dive into these books and be transported to worlds both familiar and extraordinary.