EN TUESDAY SMURFS : As 600 new books are published, read these under the radar debut novels

Now, more than ever, it’s important to celebrate and support the new novelists publishing this autumn

Autumn is the busiest time of the year for books as publishers release the titles they think will hit the Christmas jackpot. And 2020 is set to be bigger than ever.

Following the closure of bookshops and the cancellation of literary festivals and events, many of the titles have been held back over the past two months and are now due to hit the shelves over the course of September and October – and it’s what the trade magazine The Bookseller has dubbed as a series of “mini Super Thursdays”.

For an author, their publication day is meant to be a celebrated and exciting occasion as opposed to an anxiety-inducing one.

But, many writers who are releasing novels on 5 September – the first in the series of publishing days throughout autumn – are competing in what has been described as an “onslaught” of more than 600 new books being published in just one day, a 24 per cent increase on the previous year.

This is not to say that this year’s biggest releases – such as Caitlin Moran’s More Than a Woman or Nick Hornby’s Just Like You – will go under the radar; rather there’s a growing concern that debut novelists may slip through the net.

Despite this, review and publicity space is inevitably tight, and well-established writers and publishers of much-touted titles, like the ones mentioned above, will stand out. This means that now, more than ever, it’s important to celebrate, raise awareness and support the debut novelists publishing this autumn.

As such, we’ve compiled a round-up of the books by first-time authors you need to buy on 3 September and enjoy throughout the autumn months. Because, in our opinion, there’s really nothing better than curling up indoors with a freshly published book.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across.

‘Sad Janet’ by Lucie Britsch, published by Orion Publishing Co: £14.99, Waterstones

It’s summertime and Janet, a recent college grad, is sad and adrift following a break-up with a boy she never really liked. The plot develops as she debates putting an end to her depression with a pill that promises happiness in time for Christmas. A strangely exuberant meditation on sadness, Britsch articulates the conflicting pains of depression in a wise and memorable way. This is one that will leave a lasting impact, and we can’t wait to see what else is in store from this exciting novelist. 

‘The Night of the Flood’ by Zoë Sommerville, published by Head of Zeus: £18.99, Foyles

Set during the 1950s in the shadow of the Cold War, this atmospheric thriller follows a love triangle that turns murderous. Centred around Verity, a young girl who has ambitions beyond her small-town life in Norfolk, and feels trapped between the past and present: the devotion to her childhood friend Arthur and the desire to escape. The story follows her as she meets Jack, a charismatic American pilot, who offers her glamour and adventure. But, Arthur becomes determined to uncover the truth beneath Jack’s glossy exterior. Sommerville’s absorbing story of secrets, obsessions and thwarted desires is gripping and entertaining. 

‘Love Orange’ by Natasha Randall, published by riverrun: £15.19, WHSmith

A bitter deconstruction of the twenty-first century American Dream, Love Orange offers an uncanny take on the perceived banality of family life by following a married couple, Jenny and Hank, confined to their traditional gender roles while bringing up their two sons. Randall throws satirical light on everything from opioid addictions to the domination of modern technology in this exuberant and contemporary novel.

‘The Thursday Murder Club’ by Richard Osman, published by Viking: £11.54, Amazon

Full of one-liners and an artfully constructed twist, this novel is set in a peaceful retirement village and centres around four 80-year-olds friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron – “The Thursday Murder Club”. The group meet weekly to investigate unsolved killings, but it’s the suspicious demise of a property developer when they find themselves in the middle of their first live case. Joyce and the gang will become your favourite crime-solving team in this compelling read. 

‘A Girl Made of Air’ by Nydia Hetherington, published by Quercus: £11.77, Amazon

Several fairy tales intertwined into one, this captivating novel tells the story of love and loss. A Girl Made of Air is a spell-bounding account of an unnamed tightrope artist’s life as narrated by the protagonist Mouse. Told through taped interviews, journals, news articles and letters, what unravels is the mystery of a lost child. A pacey and entirely enthralling read.