The Best Books of 2010? Part 2: Debut/Lesser Known Authors

Last week I posted the first half of the list of 2010 books I’m looking forward to:

The Best Books of 2010? Part 1: Authors We Know and Love

This week it is the turn of lesser known authors.

Skippy Dies – Paul Murray 

Skippy Dies will instantly grab your attention in a book shop as it is going to be packaged in a boxed set of three books. The story centres on an overweight genius who attempts to open a portal into a parallel universe. His roommate Skippy falls in love, but then tragedy strikes (is the book’s title a plot spoiler?!) and all kinds of secrets are brought to light. This sounds like a great premise and I look forward to reading it.


Rupture – Simon Lelic

A challenging and disturbing novel about an investigation into a school shooting. There have been many books about these incidents in the past few years, but this sounds as though it combines the best aspects of them all. I’m hoping it will be as good as We Need to Talk About Kevin.

The Birth of Love – Joanna Kavenna

Set in Vienna in 1865, London in 2009, and in 2153, this novel shows how childbirth has changed over the centuries. I can’t wait to see how the ‘breeding centres’ of the future are depicted. A contender for the Orange prize this year?

Good to a Fault – Marina Endicott

Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, Canada and Caribbean, and short listed for the Giller Prize in 2009 this is a book I have been anticipating for a while. It is released in the UK in March.

The Return of Captain John Emmett – Elizabeth Speller 

A story of love, suicide and mystery set in 1920s England. I think this is an author worth keeping an eye on.

The Temple-goers – Aatish Taseer

A novel about upper-class corruption in modern-day Delhi. The dazzling story of a city quietly burning with rage. Will this be a contender for the Booker prize this year?

The Boat to Redemption – Su Tong

Winner of the Man Asian Prize 2009, this book is a dark comedy about the Chinese Revolution. I’m a big fan of Asian Literature, so this book will be one of my first reads in 2010.


Black Mamba Boy – Nadifa Mohamed

Set in 1930s Somalia, this book spans a decade of war and upheaval. Everything is seen through the eyes of a ten-year old boy, so this sounds like one you’ll need the tissues for.

Luke and Jon – Robert Williams

A coming of age novel with a difference. Jon is very strange – he wears 1950s clothes, has a side parting and a twitch. Luke is grieving the loss of his mother. I think this might be one of the most unique releases in 2010.  

The Great Perhaps – Joe Meno

The story of an American family in the run up to the 2004 US presidential election and the Iraq war. It’s a heartfelt story about just how complicated and ambiguous modern life can be.

Ilustrado – Miguel Syjuco

Winner of the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize, this is a book I’m really looking forward to reading when it is released in June.

This Bleeding City – Alex Preston

A debut novel about a hedge fund manager who sees potential to escape from the financial world when the markets crash. A heartbreaking love story and a touching contemplation of how good people end up doing terrible things.

The Whole Wide Beauty – Emily Woof

The story of one woman’s passionate affair with a poet. An unforgettable debut novel about searching for fulfillment in love, art and life. It doesn’t sound like my sort of thing, but I think that others will love it and it could end up on the Orange list.

The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas

Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2009, this controversial book is released in the UK in May. I bought a copy from New Zealand last year, so you can read my review here. I guarantee that everyone will be talking about this one!

Ruby’s Spoon – Anna Lawrence Pietroni

This book sounds like a lovely fairy tale. It is about a witch, a mermaid and their hunt for a missing woman. The cover is beautiful too!

Advice for Strays – Justine Kilkerr

I think this is a book for cat lovers – especially those who enjoy ghostly stories too. This sounds like an fantastically original debut novel.

We, The Drowned – Carsten Jensen

Carsten Jensen has had huge success in Denmark, winning many literary prizes. This epic novel about life at sea promises to become a lasting classic of seafaring literature.

Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey

This book won numerous accolades on its release in Australia. Set in an Australian mining town during the 1960s it deals with issues of racism and social exclusion. I think this has the potential to be one of my favourite reads in 2010.

Do any of these appeal to you?

Which books by debut authors are you most looking forward to in 2010?

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  1. David H says:

    Interesting list, Jackie! I was quite surprised to discovered just how many of these I already knew about; but the ones that sound particularly intriguing to me are the Lelic, Kavenna, Endicott, Mohamed, Williams, and Lawrence Pietroni. The Murray is brand new to me, but also sounds interesting. And this is only the tip of the iceberg for next year!

    1. Jackie says:

      David, I think we are just on Twitter too much!! In previous years I would have had very little idea about what was being released, but being in touch with the publishers on there is really useful for finding out about these books.

  2. Verity says:

    I didn’t know about any of these except Ruby’s Spoon which I’ve just finished reading. It was good, but not my sort of book.

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, Sorry to hear that you didn’t love Ruby’s Spoon. I hope that I enjoy it more than you did.

  3. Alessandra says:

    Never heard of any of these books before, but Good To A Fault sounds very intriguing. The Slap, too. Thanks for the suggestions :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Alessandra, The Slap is very good, as long as you are tolerant of swearing, sex and a number of other things. Good to a Fault is getting a lot of blogging publicity at the moment, so I really hope it is as good as everyone says it is.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for another great list Jackie! All these authors are new to me so your post is very informative.

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, Thank you! I hope you enjoy reading a few of them.

  5. Victoria says:

    Oh, I had no idea Joanna Kavenna was bringing out a new book! Her first novel ‘Inglorious’ won the Orange New Writer’s Award in 2008 and I thought it was marvellous. I’m definitely adding The Birth of Love to the Amazon wishlist; as well as The Slap. I’ve been intrigued by that since I read your review earlier this year.

    1. Jackie says:

      Victoria, I’m really pleased to hear that you enjoyed Joanna Kavenna’s last book. Her new one jumped out at me and I’m really looking forward to reading it. I’ll keep an eye out for her first book and may try to read it before her new one comes out.

  6. Samantha says:

    Hi Jackie,

    I got my secret santa present. Thank you so much!

    Merry Christmas,


    1. Jackie says:

      Samantha, I’m really pleased that you like it!

  7. Sandy says:

    I remember your review of The Slap, and how it would be controversial amongst a reading group. Also, the one about cats and ghosts? Sign me up for that one.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Advice for Strays does sound really interesting. I’d love to know why all those cats have disappeared!

  8. Aarti says:

    Joe Meno is from Chicago, and I’ve met him! He came to our bookstore and did a reading, chatted for a while and then donated lots of amazing books! I think he is one of those who may have short story writing down- so many can’t do it.

    I also think the Birth of Love sounds excellent, and The Boat to Redemption has a gorgeous cover. Great choices, Jackie!

    1. Jackie says:

      Aarti, It is great that you got to meet him. I’m not a big fan of short stories, but love to hear that an author is good at writing them, as it is generally a sign that they are a fantastic writer. I look forward to reading his book.

  9. Steph says:

    How do you keep track (or find!) all of these debuts? I’ve only heard of a few of these prior to your post, so you’ve definitely given me much to anticipate. So many pretty covers! ;)

    The only one of these that I’ve actually seen “in the flesh” so to speak, is Rupture, which I paged through earlier this week at work. I think it will be a pretty polarizing novel – the writing style is very distinct, and I think “challenging” is probably about right. Not sure it’s one that I’ll pick up, to be honest.

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, It is a combination of keeping an eye on the international prizes, emailing publishers, reading tweets about new book excitement and spending far too much time on Amazon! I keep track of them by making a note of them in a draft post, which means that posts like this write themselves over time.

      Your thoughts on Rupture are interesting. I didn’t realise it would be polarising, but I do like that in a book. I wonder which side of the fence I’ll be?! Are you planning to read it?

  10. Amy says:

    There are so many books on this list that interest me, it’s hard to know where to start! I think The Boat to Redemption is a must for me. And I want to see how the author approaches a common issue in Rupture. Marina Endicott’s Good to a Fault has my interest, and Aatish Taseer, Emily Woolf and Craig Silvey’s books all sound good. Jackie, do you hear about these upcoming or new relaease on Twitter? How do you know about these books? Bot of your 2010 lists are fantastic! I hope you don’t mind that I jotted down many of the books on your list here :o )

    ~ Amy

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, I love the fact that you’ve jotted down some titles! I will be reading a lot of these books in 2010, so it will be great to compare notes on a few.

      A lot of these books have been mentioned on Twitter, but I have also emailed publishers and kept an eye on the international book prizes. Let’s hope they are as good as they look!

  11. Simon S says:

    Ooooh Jasper Jones and The Birth of Love have delightful covers. I am loving both of them in particular, cover whore that I am hahahaha. Interesting list!

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, That is interesting – if I had to award prizes for the best covers on my list I’d go for Ruby’s Spoon and The Great Perhaps. The blurbs for The Birth of Love and Jasper Jones appeal to me more though – perhaps you just have a better eye for covers than me!

  12. raidergirl3 says:

    I read The Slap this summer, and (having just read your review) agree completely on your thoughts.

    Good to a Fault is waiting for me right now at the library, so I’ll get back to you on that soon.
    Great list, I’ll keep an eye out on some of these.
    Have you read Hey Nostradamus by Coupland? I’d put it along with We Need to Talk About Kevin as companion books. I wonder if Rupture will be the third.

    1. Jackie says:

      raidergirl3, I haven’t read Hey Nostradamus yet, but was planning to read Generation A in the next few weeks, so hopefully I’ll love his writing and give that a try later in the year. I didn’t realise Hey Nostradamus was about school shootings.

      I look forward to reading your thoughts on Good to a fault – it sounds really good, so I hope you enjoy it.

  13. Dan Holloway says:

    The Emily Woof’s the one on that list that leaps out and cries “buy me”. I most certainly will. I’m actually feeling myself itching to dive in as I type – very good sign.

    I’m afraid I couldn’t pick up Skippy Dies without, well, no not even thinking of Skippy but of Goodness Gracious me’s wonderful Skipinder the Punjabi Kangaroo.

    After spending a wonderful afternoon today hanging out with the publishers, the super-lovely uber-cool guys at To Hell With First Novels, I am now even more drooling than last week at the thought of Grant Gillespie’s The Cuckoo Boy. Sounds like The Wasp Factory only written by John Updike.

    1. Jackie says:

      Dan, Emily Woof’s novel sounds too slow and arty for me, but I knew that a lot of people who read this blog would like the sound of it. I look forward to finding out what you think of it and to seeing if you can persuade me to buy Cuckoo Boy at some point in the next year!

  14. mee says:

    I have The Slap on my shelf, and of course seen Jasper Jones, as his book is everywhere in Australia. I’ve read about Su Tong’s new book too. The rests are new to me. The Birth of Love intrigued me :) .

    1. Jackie says:

      mee, It is good to know that Jasper Jones is everywhere in Australia – have you been tempted to read it? I’m really looking forward to The Birth of Love too. I hope it is as good as it looks.

  15. Megan says:

    I don’t know if there’s any there that *don’t* appeal to me. I love it when you make lists because it seems like you never mention a book that isn’t of interest to me. Hmmmm…maybe what drew me here in the first place? This is going in the “starred” section of my Google Reader, so I’ll know what to look out for next year! :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Megan, Thank you! I’m really pleased that you enjoy my lists – there are a great selection here and I hope they are as good as they look.

  16. Jenners says:

    Of all of them, “Skippy Dies” intrigued me the most.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, It does look very good – I wonder how long it is going to be. I do worry that a trilogy released together will be too much at once, so hope they are all novellas.

  17. Christina says:

    Quite a few of these books caught my eye so I’m anxiously awaiting your reviews to see if I should pick any of them up. I did immediately add The Birth of Love, though. I definitely have gained a taste for speculative fiction after spending a whole semester reading and writing about the topic.

    1. Jackie says:

      Christina, That is the one that jumped out for me and if I could only read one then I’d pick that, because of my involvement with the national childbirth trust I do love to find out as much as I can about births.

  18. kimbofo says:

    I’m currently reading Rupture, as Picador supplied me with an advance copy last week. I’m about a third of the way through and it is brilliant. Really readable and page-turning! It’s sure to do very well if it gets some positive press.

    1. Jackie says:

      kimbofo, I have a copy of Rupture too. I haven’t got as far as reading it yet though. It is great to hear that you are enjoying it and am looking forward to picking it up in the new year.

  19. Wow, love this list! Most of these books don’t even show up on Amazon’s US page :( I’ll just have to wait a bit longer to add some of these to my wishlist. The Birth of Love especially piqued my interest.

    1. Jackie says:

      A Bookshelf Monstrosity, Sorry to hear that they aren’t going to be released in the US soon. I hope you don’t have to wait too long.

  20. Alyce says:

    The Birth of Love is the one I am most interested in. Do you happen to know when it will release in the US?

    1. Jackie says:

      Alyce, The Birth of Love will be released in the US on 13th April:

  21. Beth F says:

    Thanks for the heads-up on these. I can barely keep up with the books I have so I’ve haven’t been looking to the future.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, I can’t keep up either :-) but I do like seeing what is coming up in the future.

  22. Wow, thank you so much!

    I do hope you love Advice for Strays, and I’d be really interested to hear what you think of it.

    Have a great Christmas!


    1. Jackie says:

      Justine, I’m so sorry I missed your comment – it must have come in the Christmas rush. I do hope to get to your book at some point. I hope that I enjoy it :-)

  23. Becky says:

    You must, must, must add The Lost Daughter by Daralyse Lyons to the list! It is exceptional and yet lesser known. The best novel I’ve ever read…

    1. Jackie says:

      Becky, Sorry for failing to reply to your comment for so long. I haven’t heard of The Lost Daughter, but I do like the sound of it – I’ve added it to my wishlist. Thanks for the recommendation!

  24. Sara says:

    great list! I would recremend the Hunger Games.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sara, The Hunger Games is fantastic! I’m looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy over the summer :-)

  25. BuukWurm says:

    Great list, it will make for a fun summer of reading. I hear Curtis J. Hopfenbeck’s name everywhere for his book ‘The Liquid City’, but I can’t find it at Barnes and Noble. I like to read all the hot new authors and he’s supposed to be successor to Robert B. Parker. Does anyone know where I can get his book? Thanks!

    1. Jackie says:

      BuukWurm, I haven’t heard of Curtis Hofenbeck, but it appears he is a self – published author. You can buy his book from here:


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