Fall’s indie books are here, and whether you’re interested in prison drama, dystopian science fiction, or a nonfiction page-turner, these five indie debuts may be what you’re looking for. Chosen as American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce picks, these books showcase independent authors and their undiscovered titles.
Hum If You Don’t Know the Words, Bianca Marais
Marais’ novel is set in 1970s South Africa and follows the lives of Robin and Beauty. Robin is small, white and recently orphaned, while Beauty is black, motherly and in search of the daughter she lost during the Soweto uprising. Hum If You Don’t Know the Words is a story of racism reflected in a country’s history. It’s about reconciliation and how two lives converge to display the forms in which love and family can arise.
The Graybar Hotel, Curtis Dawkins
Curtis Dawkins writes of life in a Michigan prison after being incarcerated for a drug-related homicide. Each story in the The Graybar Hotel reflects the daily struggle of prison life. Dawkins writes of complex inmate relationships, and the decisions and circumstances that brought them to prison.
The Glass Eye: A Memoir, Jeannie Vanasco
Jeannie Vanasco chronicles her spiral into mental illness in the moments following her father’s death with the urgency of lost love. Jumping back and forth in time, Vanasco recalls her family’s history, from childhood up to her father’s death, each chapter a meditation on her struggle not only to write the book but to tell the right story for her dead father. Her memoir reads like a documentary unfolding in the mind’s eye, a camera pointing at the subsections of her life—Dad, Mom, mental illness, death, life, love—to craft a complete story of grief and loss.
Saints and Misfits, S.K. Ali
Janna Yusuf is an Arab Indian-American Muslim teen who likes books, photography and a boy named Jeremy. Except Muslim girls don’t date, or shouldn’t date, or can’t, so Janna has a decision to make during a time in her life when she cares more about what others think. Will she be a saint who follows the rules, a misfit who follows her heart, or something else entirely? This YA novel is about more than a teen on the verge of self-discovery: It’s a story of how several cultures intersect to create identity.
All Rights Reserved, Gregory Scott Katsoulis
Katsoulis creates a world where all words are charged and speech literally isn’t free. In this dystopian setting, all forms of interaction and communication are copyrighted, making the truest revolution silence. All Rights Reserved explores free speech and how life would look without it. This sci-fi thriller is imaginary, but the characters and their world feel quite real.