Sophie White is a sharp and funny commentator. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Book review: Sophie White has written a clever, entertaining debut

US novelist William Melvin Kelley in Paris 1968:  moving, honest account of a young black man trying to find his way in a hostile world.

Black identity and disability are examined in William Melvin Kelley’s rediscovered classic

Tina Callaghan

Tina Callaghan’s gothic mystery set on an island off Ireland heaps drama upon drama

Lucy Sweeney Byrne is a skilful writer. Her memorable descriptions flow in long, elegant sentences.

Lucy Sweeney Byrne’s debut is gripping and entertaining with a strong feminist bent

Sue Rainsford: Has a knack for writing bracing, off-kilter realities with strong feminist overtones.

Review: Sue Rainsford explores themes of sex, death and the female body

Margaret Atwood’s book The Handmaid’s Tale became a cultural phenomenon

Review: Aunt Lydia’s story is a highlight of the long-awaited Handmaid’s Tale sequel

Herman Koch

Herman Koch’s tale of a man’s descent into paranoia is entertaining if a bit long-winded

Annaleese Jochems: her plain but precise prose style helps to keep things buoyant

Annaleese Jochems unleashes an original debut set in cramped quarters in New Zealand

   The Truants marks author Kate Weinberg out as a natural storyteller  who spins a decent yarn with lots of smaller yarns along the way

Book review: Kate Weinberg’s intelligent debut is set in a vividly rendered English university

EM Reapy: good at writing interesting, believable predicaments

Book review: EM Reapy, from Mayo, has a lot to live up to after her award-winning debut

Anna Hope:  Her  background in drama makes for vibrant fictional detail. Photograph: Laura Hynd

Book review: Anna Hope’s novel looks at the intersecting lives of three friends in London

Lauren Aimee Curtis writes intelligently on  themes of sex and religion

Lauren Aimee Curtis’s original take on teenage pregnancy makes for a vibrant debut novel

Barbara Bourland:  inventive, colourful writer is one to watch

Barbara Bourland’s colourful takedown of the New York art world has plenty to say for itself

Tim MacGabhann: from Kilkenny to Mexico

Review: Tim MacGabhann’s debut is billed as a literary crime novel but lacks killer writing

Richard Roper sets up a compelling mystery from the beginning of his debut novel

Richard Roper has crafted a compelling mystery in this clever and uplifting debut

Author David Brennan’s debut Irish novel gives us a vibrant new take on an age old story

David Brennan’s clever Irish debut presents a deeply unsettling world

Geovani Martins: an evocative writer who knows his city well

Geovani Martins, a new literary star from Rio, doesn’t shine as brightly as the hype

Lauren Acampora writes about the subject of female friendship with nuance

Lauren Acampora’s debut novel, set in the Holywood bubble, is gripping and nuanced

Claire McGlasson is a journalist for ITV News Anglia

Book review: Claire McGlasson’s debut novel maps out the intriguing world of the Panacea Society

Wayétu Moore: writes with frequent exposition and convoluted expression

Book review: Wayétu Moore's imaginative debut gets lost in plodding prose

Deirdre Shanahan: Themes of dislocation and belonging are writ large throughout

Well-written debut novel raises questions about cultural appropriation

Andrews grew up in Sunderland and has been published by the Independent, Somesuch Stories, AnOther, Caught by the River, Shabby Doll House and Papaya Press

Jessica Andrew’s debut novel marks her as a writer to watch

Ahmad Danny Ramadan is a Syrian-Canadian author, public speaker, storyteller and an LGBTQ-refugee activist

Ahmad Danny Ramadan’s uneven debut novel reflects troubles of a beleaguered minority

Crossing is Pajtim Statovci’s second novel, after his award-winning debut My Cat Yugoslavia

Pajtim Statovci’s second novel tells the story of two Albanian boys struggling with shame

Chip Creek has written an eminently readable debut

Chip Creek’s vibrant debut puts two innocent newly-weds in a place where anything goes

Ben Smith: his poetic abilities paint the surroundings of the novel in vivid detail.

An off-shore wind farm in the near future grounds this tale of loss and survival

Adrian Duncan’s spare and meticulous prose provides a vivid reconstruction of a profession not commonly documented in fiction

Adrian Duncan’s quietly reflective novel brings to life an engineer’s work in Berlin

Jan Carson: a writer with a pleasingly distinctive style

Jan Carson’s captivating novel should hopefully earn her international recognition


A captivating historical debut about a slave girl on trial for a double murder

Jenny McCartney’s debut is a well-meaning tale that falls down on the writing

Jenny McCartney’s debut about a friendship in Northern Ireland is let down by the writing

Sarah Henstra writes sensitively and fluently on sex, desire, rape and power. Photograph:  Paola Scattolon

Sarah Henstra has an acerbic style that works well for her takedown of campus frat culture

Sarah Davis Goff excels in describing macabre detail in clear and visual prose

Nicole Flattery: her style is bold and bracing and has no bones about it

Debut collection from Mullingar author has great wit, depth and momentum

Saskia Vogel brings a unique perspective to the subject of power and sexuality

Saskia Vogel’s debut novel is told through the eyes of an actor grieving her father

Lillian Li: particularly good on character

A captivating debut novel gives a flavour of life in the American service industry

Kristen Roupenian  stories offer abrasive, painfully aware accounts of relationships in turmoil.

Cat Person author Kristen Roupenian’s short stories chronicle modern sexual politics

Stacey Halls: ‘The Familiars’ was the subject of a nine-way bidding auction won by Bonnier Zaffre

Dark arts and a dark patriarchy in 17th-century Lancashire from Stacey Halls

Angela Readman

A charming, offbeat debut about two teenage girls living on a remote Scottish island

Author Claire Adam: Life in Trinidad is brilliantly depicted in her book, ‘Golden Child’.

A beautifully written debut from Claire Adam about sacrifice and violence in contemporary Trinidad

Author Geraldine Quigley was chosen for Penguin’s WriteNow mentoring programme, which aims to nurture and publish under-represented writers.

Book is heavy with weight of too many voices and lacks discernment as it switches between them

Mazen Maarouf: Palestinian-Icelandic author has had his first novel translated into English

Mazen Maarouf’s collection of stories weaves the domestic with the horrific

Oyinkan Braithwaite: offbeat and irreverent humour

Oyinkan Braithwaite writes about sisterly love and murder in a light-hearted manner

Intan Paramaditha: comparisons to the gothic horror mastery of Angela Carter are exaggerated

Tales of an unexpected nature combine horror with fairy tales and a feminist focus

Sally Rooney. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The best debuts and emerging voices from Ireland and abroad in 2018

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah: a  remarkable new voice on issues of race in America

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah tackles race in America in this vibrant, inventive book

Jamie Guiney: a talent for atmosphere and setting

Jamie Guiney’s collection of stories is a mixed bag, with some stark moments of clarity and emotion

Brian Coughlan: The humour too often misses the mark

Debut collection of 21 short stories whose cleverness is hampered by a lack of restraint

William Melvin Kelley delivers his observations with caustic humour and surprising compassion

Rediscovered classic from a black American writer imagines a different Deep South

Niviaq Korneillson: glimpses of interesting wordplay in the native language

Niviaq Korneillson’s debut novel is an uneven tale of the lives female twentysomethings in a country whose backdrop is largely une(...)

Amy Arnold: her  novel is a portrait of motherhood, loss and mental fragility

Amy Arnold debut examines trauma and the resulting breakdown in communication

A young woman's diagnosis with breast cancer becomes surreal B-movie material

Owen Booth has written a remarkable debut whose profound documenting of family life is achieved in less than 200 pages.

Owen Booth’s original debut gives a profound account of life, family and fatherhood

João Morais: a flair for humour is seen in the opening story and in sparse flashes elsewhere

A debut collection of stories about young people starts well but finally fails to convince

Alia Trabucco Zerán:  lyricism and eye for detail shine on the page.

Alia Trabucco Zerán explores repercussions of the Pinochet era on the next generation

RO Kwon:  her  eloquent prose is  worthy of attention despite novel’s flaws

Stylish writing and interesting subject matter are lost in a plodding narrative

Nihad Sirees: the tone of his novel veers  between male porno fantasy and misogyny

A second novel by the Syrian author proves to be a laboured love story rife with cliches

Samantha Hunt:  takes us through the looking glass, away from what we thought we knew.

Samantha Hunt’s stories are smart, benevolent explorations of complex emotions

Wendy Erskine’s voice is noticeably Northern, however, with a dry wit that is often found in the most unlikely places.

Wendy Erskine is a startling new voice from Belfast that comes alive in short story format

Pinning is the process of injecting your quad muscles with steroids bought illegally online. Photograph: Panchenko Dmytro/iStock/Getty

Review: This tense debut about steroid abuse is very much of the moment

Claudia Dey: catapults the reader into a strange and compelling land. Photograph: Norman Wong

A dog and two teenagers bring an inventive second novel about commune living to life

Darragh Martin: an immensely skilled storyteller

Darragh Martin’s debut delivers a history of the last 30 years with heart and humour

JM Holmes: the collection is peppered with sharp observations on race

A debut collection tells interlinked stories of race, friendship and sexual violence

John Boyne in his recently renovated home in Rathfarnham, Dublin. The redesign helped him deal with the break-up of his marriage. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Boyne's latest novel A Ladder to the Sky is inspired by the literary world and the writer's experience of an "unhealthy" crush on (...)

Norah Lange: renders a claustrophobic, feminine world where something awful and unknowable is happening

English translation of a masterful, deeply mysterious novel about female isolation

Ian MacKenzie

The astute, captivating story of expat life of an American woman in Brazil

Rachel Heng: has created a fascinating world

Novel about people on the cusp of immortality makes a case for quality over quantity

Helen Cullen, author of The Lost Letters of William Woolf

Debut novel about a letter detective builds an enchanting world but gets lost in subplot

Jen Beagin: excellent at physical description, in particular how the body memorises or processes trauma. Photograph: Beowulf Sheehan

Review: Beagin’s debut novel should be a hit with readers and awards lists alike

Sakaya Murata: her oddball narrator delivers quips at an impressive rate

Sakaya Murata writes with a deadpan humour in this sure-fire hit of the summer

Thea Lim: creates a vibrant, dystopian world in her writing

New fiction offers fresh perspective on the complexity of migration and displacement

Tara Isabella Burton has written a Ripleyesque debut novel

There are some similarities to Highsmith and Tarte, but the execution is lacking

Paul Howarth: spares us none of the grisly details

Paul Howarth’s stunning debut has shades of Cormac McCarthy and Patrick deWitt

Caroline O’Donoghue: the writing in her debut novel feels authentic and urgent

A sharp and engaging tale of a millennial woman making her way in the world

Covers from Banshee, The Moth and Poetry Ireland Review

Both online-only formats and print journals provide vital platforms for new and developing writers

Kevin Powers: Virginian author’s first book powerfully depicted war through one soldier’s voice. Photograph: Kelly Powers

Review: Author’s attempts to widen the lens make for an overwrought narrative

Luke Tredget’s debut novel, ‘Kismet’, is an intelligent and highly readable novel.

‘Kismet’ reflects on social media’s role in our feelings of inferiority

Carys Davies, author of ‘West’

West has the wisdom and lyrical prose of a folk tale whose power grips from the beginning and demands a single-session read.

Jade Sharma: a unique voice. Photograph: Tracie Williams

New fiction: a genuine tour de force about a woman in her 20s whose life is falling apart

Journalist-turned-author Libby Page: By comparison with some of her contemporaries’ efforts ‘The Lido’ is found wanting

Debut novel already lined up for film version lacks the style of less heralded new releases

AJ Pearce: Echoes of the innocent antics of ‘The Four Marys’ abound

A plucky female heroine helps a war-torn London in a highly original debut

Margaret Wilkerson Sexton sensitively explores the generational impact of racial disparity in the South

A captivating generational tale about the impact of racism in the American South

Author Kit de Waal’s  new novel steps back in time to the IRA pub bombings in Birmingham in 1974.

The Trick to Time review: A beguiling, simple story that hides a tricksy, troubled tale

Christine Mangan’s debut novel was the subject of a bidding war in the US, where Harper Collins bought it for a reported $1.1 million

Morocco in the 1950s is a captivating setting for this uneven but admirably sinister novel

Paolo Cognetti: The Eight Mountains has won multiple awards in Italy and is his first novel to be translated into English

Paolo Cognetti’s coming-of-age in the Alps story is vividly rendered and wonderfully lucid

By the end of ‘The Dinner Guest’, Ybarra has done herself and her family proud in a story that is full of light and shade

Gabriela Ybarra’s captivating debut is written with the forensic eye of a true crime writer

Power's affinity with the short story form comes through in this debut collection

Jessie Greengrass: ‘a lifetime’s inculcated faith in the explanatory power of books’

A slow burning, beautifully written debut on the art of reflection

Reared as a Presbyterian in Cavan, Norma McMaster lives in Skerries, where she is a minister in the Church of Ireland

A staunch Presbyterian woman shows little mercy to her loved ones, or the reader

Where Sheehan comes into his own as a writer is the descriptions of a war-torn Sarajevo

An uneven debut set between ’90s Ireland, California and Eastern Europe tries to cram in too much

Mary Lynn Bracht: the author based White Chrysanthemum on stories from her mother and her community of expat friends who came of age in postwar South Korea

The plight of Korea's 'comfort women' hits home in a thought-provoking debut

Danny Denton’s splashes of reality flood the narrative with reminders of Ireland’s recent economic fall from grace. Photograph: Rachel Bradbury

Review: The Earlie King and the Kid in Yellow, a debut novel by Cork author Danny Denton

Imogen Hermes Gowar studied archaeology, anthropology and art history at the University of East Anglia before going on to work in museums

A stellar debut set in Georgian London blends mythical sea creatures and merchant life

French-Moroccan writer Leïla Slimani: Not since The Hand that Rocks the Cradle has someone showcased so effectively the power a nanny can have within a family. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

The ‘French Gone Girl’ is a tense and evocative tale of a nanny’s descent into murder

Emma Glass: the author’s care when it comes to language is evident throughout

An extraordinary, powerful debut that looks at the aftermath of a rape

Thomas Pierce: the book’s beating heart is in its exploration of faith

Life after death makes for an engaging topic in an imaginative and funny debut

Jenny Fran Davis: Everything Must Go digs into the transactional nature of relationships

An inventive debut about the conflicting impulses of smart millennial women

The year’s best novels and collections from emerging authors at home and abroad

Morgan C Babst

New fiction: An excellent debut charts a family’s chaos in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Kelly Creighton: her stories are memorable because of the quality of the writing

A Belfast writer’s striking debut collection of stories shows much potential

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