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Why we’re obsessed with debut novels

The energy in the world of publishing is decisively behind first-time fiction writers. There’s a reason why we’re so hungry for new voices, writes Jessie Thompson

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Debuts have always had an extra frisson because they mark our first encounter with a writer

Debuts have always had an extra frisson because they mark our first encounter with a writer

Debuts have always had an extra frisson because they mark our first encounter with a writer

Ha ha ha. That’s the sound of the crafty laugh I do, just after I’ve read a really good debut novel. I turn the final page, close the book, and immediately begin to strategise my campaign to tell anyone I like or respect that they should also read it immediately. One) because it’s nice to share. Two) because it makes me look erudite and sophisticated.

Much as I love her, bragging about having read Elizabeth Strout’s seventh novel doesn’t make me look edgy or ahead of the pulse. There is, undeniably, a smugness about spotting a great talent first. It makes me feel very self-satisfied. Oh, and I enjoy the books as well.


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