Look beyond the bestseller list this holiday season and discover books from some of the most talented, under-the-radar authors published this year by small and large presses. Our Emerging Writers picks include some authors you might have heard about, and others you may not have considered until now. Either way, these are books not to be missed!
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This debut literary novel takes place over 24 hours and features a young black British narrator/protagonist who works in a racist financial environment and who now is questioning the value and meaning of this life path. Assistant Buyer Natalie says, “I absolutely loved this book. Brown succinctly captures the hollowness that accompanies 'success' in a society blinded by prejudices and obsessed with climbing the corporate ladder, and I just couldn’t help but be so impressed throughout the entire book. Definitely a new author to watch.”
This collection of poetic essays dive into the effects of media misrepresentation in the Black community. Bookselller Quinn says, “This amorphous and profound collection of poetry is pure brilliance. Medlin masterfully pulls you into worlds unknown and known. Set with the backdrop of the Phoenix suburbs, Medlin examines systemic racism, celebrity, and what the future can be. Ultimately, this collection is a love letter and a call for hope while acknowledging the struggles that must be overcome to reach a better world. There are some books that you simply should not ignore and at this moment you are looking at one.”
“I have never felt quite so speechless when finishing a book. This debut novel - unassuming in its size and yet sharp and intense in its story - completely caught me off guard. Pickhart depicts the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, where Russia has long kept a tight hold and refused to recognize its status as an independent nation. This story follows four characters as they fight to secure sovereignty for their country and safety for their loved ones. Pickhart seems to write in the empty space between conflicts, in which life continues despite the hardships of war, and she shows the resiliency of the individual in the face of oppression - the need to find beauty and love amidst destruction. Incredibly complex, heartbreaking, and insightful, this novel is an urgent argument for the presence of humanity in a time of violence,” says assistant buyer Natalie.
Book Buyer Michelle is a big fan of this one: “This novel is about the perennially single Nina who meets the seemingly perfect man, Max, on a dating app who disappears after he says “I love you.” In the midst of it all is her father’s failing health with dementia, her mother’s inability to cope and a crumbling friendship. Ghosts is sharp, witty and incredibly tender. Alderton is a keen observer of human behavior similar to Sally Rooney, except you’ll laugh more, smirk while reading and feel relieved you’re not alone. This book will break and mend your heart simultaneously. Ghosts is a novel that dares to show how we love and the lengths we go to hold onto it.”
Set in the near future, My Monticello tells of a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors fleeing violent white supremacists. Changing Hands co-owner Gayle Shanks says, “There is a promise in these stories that nothing will be held back, that the reader will be absorbed into the emotions, the pain, the hope, the lack of fairness, and uncertainty of living through the next day. Joceylyn Nicole Johnson has written a collection of stories that will haunt me, have educated me, have left me in awe of her writing and storytelling talent.”
Nightbitch is a feral story of motherhood and its discontents. It’s about a woman who puts her art career, creativity, and desires on hold to be a stay-at-home mom. One day while taking a break from her toddler son’s demands, she starts to notice changes happening to her body—patches of hair, sharper canines—an otherworldly transformation that’s not only physical but internal as well. Dark desires begin to emerge and what ensues is a brilliant and satirical novel about art, power, motherhood, society and marriage. A must-read for all those Carmen Maria Machado fans."