2014 was a great year for books, especially books by women! 2015 seems just as promising for women’s literature. For each of the authors listed here, this will be their debut novel. Some have published short-story collections in the past, but 2015 is their first year publishing a a full-length novel (aside from Single, Carefree, Mellow: Stories by Katherine Heiny—I simply had to include it because so many people are talking about it). I probably won’t be leaving the house at all for a few months!
“I’ve gone. I’ve never seen the water, so I’ve gone there. I will try to remember to come back.”
Emma Hooper’s debut novel takes readers on a journey with an unlikely protagonist. Etta, an elderly woman from Saskatchewan, has always wanted to see the sea. She wakes up early one morning and finally decides to pursue her dream. She is eighty-two and hikes 2,000 miles to the sea with a coyote named James. Meanwhile, her husband Russell waits patiently at home for her. Only recently has it become so common for books to have female protagonists, but I have never read a book from the perspective of an elderly woman. Etta looks like an interesting and unique protagonist and this traveler’s journey surely won’t disappoint.
Author Bio: Emma Hooper is a writer and musician born and raised in Alberta, Canada. She received her doctorate in Musico-Literary studies at the University of East-Anglia and now lectures at Bath University. Her band name as a solo artist is Waitress for the Bees and she plays with a number of other bands.
As an English major who decided to travel the world, I am excited to read Nina Maclaughlin’s Hammer Head, the story of of a woman who quit her desk job to become a carpenter. It is a story of change, but Maclaughlin also researches the history of the tools and the significance of the wood she uses. As a classics major, Maclaughlin expertly weaves Ovid and Mary Oliver into her story.
Author Bio: Nina Maclaughlin is a former editor for the Boston Phoenix and has written for the Believer, Bookslut, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Cambridge where she works as a carpenter.
Single, Carefree, Mellow has been celebrated by Lena Dunham for “giv[ing] women’s interior lives the gravity they so richly deserve—and makes you laugh along the way.” The eleven stories contained within this book deal with love, betrayal, and friendship. Infidelity and love may sound like overdone themes, but Katherine Heiny’s prose presents a beautifully fresh take on them.
Author Bio: Katherine Heiny’s fiction has been published in the New Yorker, Ploughshares, Narrative, Glimmer Train, and many other publications. Many of her stories deal with the humor and eccentricity of everyday life. She currently resides in Washington D.C.
Rafia Zakaria and her family moved from India to Pakistan in 1962. They sought safety and prosperity and they escaped tumultuous India, but soon found only more unrest as the government changed in the 1980s. The Upstairs Wife seems like an interesting perspective on the complicated and often misunderstood history of Pakistan, especially for women. This history in the book is important to know, and Rafia’s personal story seems compelling for understanding the real people who live in the country.
Author Bio: Rafia Zakaria is an author, attorney, and human rights activist. She has worked on behalf of victims of domestic violence for many years. She is a columnist for Al Jazeera America, Ms., Dissent, and DAWN. Zakaria now lives in Pakistan and the United States, where she serves on the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA.
This thriller, by journalist Paula Hawkins, seems like a truly gripping novel and I cannot wait to lose sleep blazing through it. Rachel is having a normal day until she witnesses something horrible happen on her train ride to work. She reports what she sees to the police and then becomes wrapped up in a mystery she cannot escape.
Author Bio: Paula Hawkins worked in journalism for fifteen years on a variety of topics from money, art, and science. Hawkins was born in Zimbabwe and moved to London in 1989. The Girl on the Train has already been optioned by Dreamworks.
A young Hélène moves to Paris to study archaeology, but soon finds herself exploring the France during the Occupation. Hélène great-uncle is a writer of a very popular book series that is about to end and Hélène and her friend, Guillaume set out to discover more about her elusive uncle and to uncover secrets they could have never imagined. This story delves into concepts of storytelling, family, and history, which all sound really interesting to me!
Author Bio: Deborah Lévy-Bertherat lives in Paris where she is a teacher of comparative literature at the École Normale Supérieure. She has translated Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time and Gogol’s Petersburg Tales into French.
Translator Bio: Adriana Hunter has translated over fifty books. She studied French and Drama at the University of London . She won the 2013 Translation Prize in Fiction, the 2011 Scott Moncrieff Prize and has been short-listed twice for the Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize. She lives in Norfolk, England.
This haunting and chilly story is set in the Swedish Lapland in 1717. Maija and her family from Finland in order to have a fresh start, but darkness soon descends when the body of their neighbor, Eriksson is found on the farm. Everyone else dismisses it as a wolf attack but Maija believes it is something much more sinister. The harsh winter reveals secrets and brings the community closer together.
Author Bio: Cecilia Ekbäck was born in Sweden and her parents are from Lapland. She currently resides in Calagary with her husband and twin daughters.
Gerard ran her own Kickstarter campaign to do the book tour for this book and it comes out a day before my birthday which I am excited about! This novel follows an anorexic astronomy student as she goes on a road trip with her alcoholic boyfriend. Through this story the novel discusses issues of advertising, celebrity culture, young love, and fighting anorexia. Gerard’s beautiful prose has already been celebrated and I am excited to read this intriguing new novel.
Author Bio: Gerard herself battled with the disease and as written about it in The New York Times and her chapbook, “Things I Told My Mother.” She hopes to help others by writing and touring with her book. She holds an MFA from The New School and works for BOMB Magazine.
After reading Laura van den Berg’s first two short story collections I am excited to read her first debut novel. Find Me is the story of Joy, a lonely woman who is immune to a deadly disease affecting the country. The novel follows Joy as she embarks on a journey to find the mother who abandoned her and discover herself along the way.
Author Bio: Laura Van den Berg holds an MFA from Emerson College. Her first novel, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and a finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her second collection of stories, The Isle of Youth, received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her stories have been published in Conjunctions, American Short Fiction, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train and One Story. She lives in the Boston area.
The title of the book alone is enough for me to stop and wonder about this book, but the premise makes it even more interesting. The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac is about a family torn apart by the search for one mystical beast. Eli Roebuck lost his mother at nine years old when she walked off into the woods with a strange hairy man. This event defined the rest of his life and readers follow him and the rest of the a Roebuck family as they battle monsters both real and imaginative.
Author Bio: Sharma Shields holds an MFA from the University of Montana, Her first short story collection, Favorite Monster, winner of the 2011 Autumn House Fiction Prize, and her work has appeared in Kenyon Review and Iowa Review. Shields Ana’s worked in bookstores and libraries and currently lives in Spokane with her husband and children.