BookBrowse's Top Ten Debuts For August 2014

Each year we search through thousands of books and book reviews in order to shortlist the most notable 80-100 publishing each month. Then we gather together all available reviews for each book so our members know about the best and most interesting books well ahead of the crowd.

Here are 10 notable debuts that we think you'll want to know about - all publishing in August.

Three BargainsThree Bargains by Tania Malik

August 11, 2014. 368 pages. Published by W.W. Norton & Company

"Malik's novel boasts masterful storytelling, with mesmerizing prose, heart-stopping action, and startling turns of events that feel both honest and astounding." - Publishers Weekly, starred review

By the banks of the River Yamuna in northern India, where rice paddies of basmati merge into fields of sugarcane, twelve-year-old Madan lives with his impoverished family in the town of Gorapur. Madan's father works for Avtaar Singh, a powerful and controlling man who owns the largest factory in town and much of the land around it. Madan's sharp mind and hardened determination catch Avtaar Singh's attention. When Madan's father's misdeeds jeopardize his sister's life, Madan strikes his first bargain with Avtaar Singh to save her.
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Small BlessingsSmall Blessings by Martha Woodroof

August 12, 2014. 320 pages. Published by St. Martin's Press.

"Small Blessings is a comedy of manners that will capture your heart. Woodroof's prose is tart and sweet - smart enough to make you laugh, but with an aching soul that will make you cry." - Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine

For readers of Helen Simonson and Anna Quindlen, Martha Woodroof's Small Blessings is funny, heart-warming and poignant, with a charmingly imperfect cast of cinema-ready characters. Readers will fall in love with the novel's wonderfully optimistic heart that reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life is veering irrevocably off track, the track changes in ways we never could have imagined.
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Dirty WorkDirty Work by Gabriel Weston

August 12, 2014. 192 pages. Published by Little Brown & Company.

"Starred Review. A medical and moral tour de force." - Publishers Weekly

Nancy Mullion, an obstetrician-gynecologist whose botched surgery has put a patient in a life-threatening coma, must face a medical tribunal to determine if she can continue to practice medicine. Nancy's fears about both her patient's chances for survival and whether she will be "undoctored" are made palpable to the reader. Throughout four weeks of intense questioning and accusations, this physician directly confronts for the first time her work as an abortion provider - how it helps the lives of others but takes a heavy toll on her own.
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Your Face In MineYour Face In Mine by Jess Row

August 14, 2014. 384 pages. Published by Riverhead Books.

"Row's premise is ingenious, but his execution is even better. He's created a thriller with a human core, powered by guilt, rage, self-loathing, traitorous longing, the claustrophobia of a single life, and the perilous fantasy of escape, rebirth." - Karen Russell, author of Vampires in the Lemon Grove and Swamplandia

One afternoon, not long after Kelly Thorndike has moved back to his hometown of Baltimore, an African American man he doesn't recognize calls out to him. To Kelly's shock, the man identifies himself as Martin, who was one of Kelly's closest friends in high school and, before his disappearance nearly twenty years before, skinny, white, and Jewish. Martin then tells an astonishing story: After years of immersing himself in black culture, he's had a plastic surgeon perform - "racial reassignment surgery" - altering his hair, skin, and physiognomy to allow him to pass as African American. Unknown to his family or childhood friends, Martin has been living a new life ever since.
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The Invention of ExileThe Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko

August 14, 2014. 304 pages. Published by Penguin Press.

"A top-notch debut, at once sober and lively and provocative." - Kirkus

Austin Voronkov is many things. He is an engineer, an inventor, an immigrant from Russia to Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1913, where he gets a job at a rifle factory. At the house where he rents a room, he falls in love with a woman named Julia, who becomes his wife and the mother of his three children. When Austin is wrongly accused of attending anarchist gatherings his limited grasp of English condemns him to his fate as a deportee, retreating with his new bride to his home in Russia, where he and his young family become embroiled in the Civil War and must flee once again, to Mexico.American. Unknown to his family or childhood friends, Martin has been living a new life ever since.
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The DogThe Dog by Jack Livings

August 5, 2014. 240 pages. Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

"Jack Livings's stories of China are marvels of the imagination." - Paul Harding, author of Tinkers

In this riveting, richly imagined collection, a wealthy factory owner - once a rural peasant - refuses to help the victims of an earthquake until his daughter starts a relief effort of her own; a marginalized but powerful Uyghur gangster clashes with his homosexual grandson; and a dogged journalist is forced to resign as young writers in "pink Izod golf shirts and knockoff Italian loafers" write his stories out from under him. With spare, penetrating prose, Livings gives shape to the anonymous faces in the crowd and illuminates the tensions, ironies, and possibilities of life in modern China. As heartbreaking as it is hopeful, The Dog marks the debut of a startling and wildly imaginative new voice in fiction.
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Whiskey Tango FoxtrotWhiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer

August 5, 2014. 432 pages. Published by Mulholland.

"An edgy, darkly comedic novel whose characters and premise are as up-to-the-minute as an online news feed but as classic as the counterculture rebellions once evoked by Edward Abbey and Ken Kesey... It's possible that Shafer is remaking the international thriller into something more humane and thus more credible." - Kirkus

The Committee, an international cabal of industrialists and media barons, is on the verge of privatizing all information. Dear Diary, an idealistic online Underground, stands in the way of that takeover, using radical politics, classic spycraft, and technology that makes Big Data look like dial-up. Into this secret battle stumbles an unlikely trio: Leila Majnoun, a disillusioned non-profit worker; Leo Crane, an unhinged trustafarian; and Mark Deveraux, a phony self-betterment guru who works for the Committee. In the spirit of William Gibson and Chuck Palahniuk, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is both a suspenseful global thriller and an emotionally truthful novel about the struggle to change the world in - and outside your head.
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The Frozen DeadThe Frozen Dead by Bernard Minier

August 12, 2014. 496 pages. Published by St. Martin's Minotaur.

"A publishing sensation in France, where it's rushed up the bestseller lists, this is Minier's first crime novel and this translation justifies its vast French reputation." - Daily Mail (UK)

Saint-Martin-de-Comminges is a small town nestled in the French Pyrenees. The kind of place where winters are harsh and unforgiving and where nothing ever happens. Until the winter morning when a group of workers discover the headless, flayed body of a horse, hanging suspended from the edge of a frozen cliff...Commandant Martin Servaz, a charismatic city cop from nearby Toulouse fond of quoting Latin, can't believe he has been called out over the death of an animal. But there's something disturbing about this crime that he can't ignore. Then DNA from one of the most notorious inmates of the asylum, a highly intelligent former prosecutor, accused of killing and raping several women, is found on the horse carcass... and a few days later the first human murder takes place. A dark story of madness and revenge seems to be unfolding.
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What We See When We ReadWhat We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund

Nonfiction. August 5, 2014. 448 pages. Published by Vintage.

"Offhandedly brilliant, witty, and fluent in the works of Tolstoy, Melville, Joyce, and Woolf, Mendelsund guides us through an intricate and enlivening analysis of why literature and reading are essential to our understanding of ourselves, each other, and the spinning world." - Booklist

What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like? The collection of fragmented images on a page - a graceful ear there, a stray curl, a hat positioned just so - and other clues and signifiers helps us to create an image of a character. But in fact our sense that we know a character intimately has little to do with our ability to concretely picture our beloved - or reviled - literary figures. In this remarkable work of nonfiction, Knopf's Associate Art Director Peter Mendelsund combines his profession, as an award-winning designer; his first career, as a classically trained pianist; and his first love, literature - he considers himself first and foremost as a reader - into what is sure to be one of the most provocative and unusual investigations into how we understand the act of reading.
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Six Feet Over ItSix Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo

Young Adult Novel. August 26 2014. 352 pages. Published by Random House

"An impressive debut novel--simultaneously hilarious, clever, and poignant." - School Library Journal, starred review

Leigh sells graves for her family-owned cemetery because her father is too lazy to look farther than the dinner table when searching for employees. Sarcastic and smart, Leigh should be able to stand up to her family and quit. But her world's been turned upside down by the sudden loss of her best friend and the appearance of Dario, the slightly-too-old-for-her grave digger.
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