Everyone is SO excited for spring. Us included. But not for the longer days, alfresco dining, and lighter jackets—which, let’s be honest, eventually translate to spring-cleaning and season allergies. We’re harnessing unbridled excitement for the women about to drop their first novels on the literary scene. Primed for best-selling lists and poised for domination, these ladies are the cream of the crop.
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, The Nest (March 22)
Though life’s tough for the characters in The Nest, we can’t say the same about the woman behind the drama, as her debut novel sparked a bidding war that resulted in, oh, just seven figures … and a movie deal. That woman is Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, a writer who launched her career penning marketing copy for a variety of businesses and writing fictional essays that got the attention of profound publications like The New York Times. But it’s with The Nest, a tale about a dysfunctional NYC family, that she’s really garnering the accolades. One of the most anticipated books of 2016, The Nest belongs to the flawed Plumb siblings, a foursome who have shaped their lives around a hefty inheritance they may actually never receive. Entertaining and brilliant, it’s a comedy about filial greed, familial love, and just plain bad choices. And it’s one you don’t want to miss.
Rebecca Schiff, The Bed Moved (April 12)
April showers bring sexcapades in Rebecca Schiff’s debut: 23, to be exact. Schiff, who lives in Brooklyn and graduated from Columbia University, makes her debut with a collection of short stories that hop from one sheet-strewn bed to another. Though they’re not the cautionary tales you may be envisioning. Rather they are brief one-offs, each shaped by a female character whose identity is molded by the men she beds, and each offering varying insight. Some are the stuff of Amy Schumer skits; others are a bit darker, dealing with grief, loss, and, well, more sex. But all are, in a word, moving. Schiff, now heralded as a “beguiling talent” by Kirkus should be at the top of your must-list.
Kate Tempest, The Bricks That Built the Houses (May 3)
So Kate Tempest is quite the Renaissance woman. She’s a British poet, a playwright, and a rapper. Yes, a rapper (or, you could call her a spoken word artist). In fact, the idea for her debut novel came from a story that became the plot for an album, which then reverted back to the narrative for The Bricks That Built the Houses. With a plot synopsis that reminds us of Adele’s “When We Were Young” with a smattering of impulsive youths and drug addiction. Bricks begins with the end, unraveling chapter by chapter to reveal bits about the group of London friends who, in the prologue, can’t wait to leave the only world they know behind.
Stephanie Danler, Sweetbitter (May 24)
If there’s one job everyone should do at least once, it’s waiting tables. Why? Because it’s the only job that simultaneously intertwines cheesy-smile hospitality and soul-crushing hostility. And that’s something now-author Stephanie Danler, who waited tables at NYC’s Union Square Café then at old-world gastrotheque Buvette, knows all too well. But the service industry isn’t all bad—while working a dinner party, she was discovered. By the VP of Random House. He approached her, said he heard she was a writer, and the rest is culinary-lit history. In Sweetbitter, Danler pulls from her own bread-and-butter past to spin a delightful yarn about a 22-year-old navigating the Big Apple one four-top at a time. We’ll let her explain: It’s “a certain connoisseurship of taste,” she writes in the beginning of the book, “a mark of how you deal with the world, is the ability to relish the bitter, to crave it even, the way you do the sweet.” This one’s a morsel you want to savor.
Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (June 7)
Back in 2009, a Stanford undergrad at the time, Yaa Gyasi went home. With a fellowship from her school, Gyasi traveled to Ghana, where she was born, and researched ideas for her upcoming novel. After a trip to the Cape Coast Castle, once a hub of the transatlantic slave trade, she had found her book’s purpose. Set in the 18th century, Homegoing spans three centuries and follows two sisters as their destinies tear them apart: One is married off to an Englishman and lives in the comforts of the Castle, the other is imprisoned in the dungeons below, then shipped to America in the slave trade. An ambitious story that traces the sordid roots that make up America, Homegoing is being heralded as “a great American novel.”