The best debuts by women of color in 2018

debuts by women of color

We’re so pleased to share with you this great list of what we think are the best debuts by women of color. You’ll find fiction, memoir, interweaving stories and essays in this diverse collection from very talented up-and-coming authors.

The Wedding Date  by Jasmine Guillory

When Alexa gets stuck in the elevator with a stranger, she never expects to end up as his date at his ex’s wedding that evening. When she and Drew have a great time at the wedding and then depart for their separate homes and professional lives, they consider what an unexpected long-distance relationship might be like. Can the two work through the distance and find what they really need in each other?


The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, is convinced that when her mother committed suicide, she became a bird. She travels to Taiwan to meet her grandparents for the first time and begins her search for her mother, the bird. She will uncover family secrets as she grieves, and tries to understand that it was not her fault that she was doing something else when her mother killed herself. Magical realism at its finest, this is a story of family, history, hope, despair, bravery and love.


How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs

Eleven stories about Jamaican immigrants and the families they left behind, this collection is tender and cruel and filled with honesty. Covering the realities and differences of race, regret and bad decisions, estranged families, prodigal sons and more, this book is lyrical, intimate and beautiful.


The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat

The Parking Lot Attendant features an unnamed narrator and her father who have just taken up residence on an unknown island, a place that is not as easy as they thought it might be. The reader learns about life on this mysterious island and we are brought back to Boston, where the narrator and her father kept to themselves in an Ethiopian community. When Ayale, a parking lot attendant, sets his sights on the narrator, she finally feels validated and assists him in schemes that bring dismay to her father. Because of Ayale, the narrator will get tangled in something dark and sinister, and nothing she ever imagined possible.


A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Secrets and betrayal come to the forefront when an Indian family is reunited for their eldest daughter’s marriage. A Place for Us explores what happened to the family from the time parents Rafiq and Layla arrive in America to how their children navigated their lives between two cultures that have divided them. Can a wedding that is based on love and not tradition erase their fractured past to bring the family back together?


Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

Just as Ren Ishida is almost done with college, he gets the devastating news that his sister Keiko was stabbed to death. When he returns to Akakawa to finalize his sister’s affairs, he is asked to take his sister’s teaching role with free-living arrangements. He accepts the offer in the hope of better understanding what happened to his sister the night of her death. As he gets to know his new surroundings and the people he works for, he will share stories of his and Keiko’s childhood, and he will come to discover that his beloved sister was keeping secrets from him.


Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen

When the daughter of an immigrant Chinese mother is hired at a film studio that’s changing the way movies are made, she finds herself in a place where she truly shines. Overnight, Sophia blooms into an assertive and successful businesswoman and takes charge of her future as only the men around her seem to be able to do. When she is recruited to a new company, Sophia must decide if the big paycheck and career status are worth it as she’s forced to work in a toxic and oftentimes male-dominated environment.


When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Khan-Cullors knows a lot about the prejudice black people experience in America. Called a terrorist because of the movement, she and her cofounders demand accountability from authorities. She is a survivor and has taken her personal hardships and turned them into something more; she has given voice to those who previously had none. This book is about survival and strength, and at its core is a story of humanity all people can relate to.


This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins

This collection of interweaving essays defines the challenges of being black and a woman (a double whammy) in today’s world. Brutally honest, This Will Be My Undoing tackles tough topics including sexuality, dating, therapy, being black in a foreign country and the subject of “Black Girl Magic.” It exposes the culture, social issues and history of black female oppression and is totally relevant for today’s society.


Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

When Zélie’s mother was killed, the magic of Orisha died along with her. It’s up to Zélie to return her home to a place of magic, but with an evil prince in power, she must use everything she has to fight against the monarchy. With dangerous spirits and otherworldly obstacles in her way, can she rise above and bring her home back to normalcy or will she fall into the hands of the enemy, who she is fighting feelings for?

Stephanie Elliot

Stephanie Elliot writes for a variety of websites and magazines on topics such as parenting, mental health issues, relationships, and of course, books. She is an editor and book reviewer. Stephanie is also the author of the young adult novel, Sad Perfect, which was inspired by her own daughter’s journey with ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband and their three children. For more info, visit www.stephanieelliot.com.

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