Writing your first book is no mean feat, as all aspiring authors out there will know. All credit, then, to these super-talented writers, who achieved fame, fortune and some even a dizzying array of literary prizes all from their debut novels. And there can be no better time to grab some inspiration from such fantastic authors than Dashain holidays. We suggest you pick a novel from the following list of debut novels to read this festive season.
Carrie by Stephen King
Stephen King’s books have sold more than 350 million copies. He has published fifty-five novels and has written nearly two hundred short stories and it all started – at least in getting published terms – with Carrie. It was written in two weeks on a portable typewriter (the same one on which he wrote Misery) that belonged to his wife.
It began as a short story, but King tossed the first three pages of his work in the garbage. His wife fished the pages out and encouraged him to finish it. King eventually quit his teaching job after receiving the publishing payment for Carrie but the hardback sold a mere 13,000 copies. The paperback, released a year later sold over one million in its first year.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
In 1953 Heller thought of the first line, “It was love at first sight” and within a week, he had finished the first chapter, and sent it to his agent. He did no more writing for the next year, as he planned the rest of the story.
When it was one-third finished his agent sent it to publishers who purchased it and gave him $750, promising him another $750 when the full manuscript was delivered. Heller missed his deadline by almost five years but, after eight years of thought, delivered the most significant work of postwar protest literature in the history of mankind and changed the English lexicon forever.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini almost never finished the novel. He started by writing a short story in 1999 then, in his words: “The short story sat around for two years. Then I went back to it in March 2001. My wife had dug it up.
I found her reading it, and she was kind of crying, and she said, “This is really a nice short story. She gave it to my father-in-law, and he loved it. He said, “I wish it had been longer.” So then I said maybe there’s something in the story that’s really touching people. Maybe I should think about going back to it and see if there’s a book in it.” There was. The novel sold more than four million copies in three years.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
It won a raft of awards including, rather delightfully, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize after it was published simultaneously in separate editions for adults and children. However, it was perhaps what it didn’t win that caused the biggest stir.
The Curious Incident was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and according to John Carey, chairman of the Booker panel of judges, many observers were surprised that it did not advance to the shortlist. Apparently, there were several clashes of opinion among the judges but Haddon’s book about a boy with Asperger’s syndrome has captivated many readers since its publication.
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
“An hour and forty-five minutes before Nazneen’s life began – began as it would proceed for quite some time, that is to say uncertainly – her mother Rupban felt an iron fist squeeze her belly.” Monica Ali’s moving and richly observed tale of a woman who moves from Bangladesh to London for an arranged marriage famously put her on the Granta best young British novelists list when it was still in manuscript stage.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart, the first volume of Chinua Achebe’s masterpiece The African Trilogy, tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Igbo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace in his world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of that world when European missionaries arrive in his village.
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Everywhere hailed as a novel of rare beauty and power, White Oleander tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her daughter, Astrid, whose odyssey through a series of Los Angeles foster homes-each its own universe, with its own laws, its own dangers, its own hard lessons to be learned-becomes a redeeming and surprising journey of self-discovery.
The Time-Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
A most untraditional love story, this is the celebrated tale of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who inadvertently travels through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate affair endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long.
The Joy Luck Club by
With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. It focuses on four Chinese American immigrant families in San Francisco who start a club known as The Joy Luck Club, playing the Chinese game of mahjong for money while feasting on a variety of foods. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined.