May Debuts plus a Sophomore Effort | Wyatt’s World

There are few reading pleasures as grand as discovering a new author in the early bud of a promising career. Here are four first novels out this month, along with a sophomore title, that prove the point—finding fresh talent very often leads to having wonderful second novels to read.The Pearl That Broke It's Shell

  • The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi (Morrow).
    Hashimi paints a disturbing portrait of the plight of women and girls in her stirring and affecting debut as she contrasts the story of young Rahima with that of her great-great-grandmother.
  • I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes (Emily Bestler: Atria).
    Detailed, clever, and rocket-fast, Hayes’s tightly plotted and meaty debut is a globe-trotting thriller featuring a secret agent and a jihadist bent on world destruction.
  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman (Ecco: HarperCollins).
    With a strong punch of fear and anxiety, Malerman pens a quick-reading first novel about an evil that if viewed causes death. Malorie and her two young children live in this world and must navigate downriver to potential safety while blindfolded—all the while listening for danger they dare not look upon.
  • The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland (Algonquin).
    In this ambitious literary debut about the sole remaining transcriptionist for a New York City newspaper, Rowland mines themes of isolation and communication to unsettling effect.
  • The Painter by Peter Heller (Knopf).
    Returning after his wonderful first novel, The Dog Stars, Heller cements his standing by offering this luminous, engrossing, and complex novel about art, nature, and violence.
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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt compiles LJ's online feature Wyatt's World and is the author of The Readers' Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers' advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader's Shelf should contact her directly at