There’s nothing like the magic of a unique, exciting, and truly outstanding debut novel. But lightning doesn’t often strike twice in the same place, which makes a successful sophomore novel even more rare. That’s why the writers in this list are so exceptional. Not only did they write best-selling and instantly beloved debut novels, but their sophomore titles match their first triumphant efforts—and in some cases outdo them. Capturing nuanced emotional journeys, atmospheric settings, complex casts of characters, and heart-racing suspense, these novels all prove that with these now tried-and-true authors, you are always in good hands.
In this ambitious sophomore novel by the bestselling author of OHIO, an alternative early twenty-first-century timeline emerges with the world on the brink of ecological and political collapse. Tony Pietrus, a scientist uncovering undersea secrets, receives a death threat that propels him into the path of a cast of desperate characters, including a clever eco-terrorist, a brilliant mathematician, and an actor turned religious extremist. In one exceptionally stellar perspective, Kate Morris is a visionary young activist who believes her project can change the future.
“This book is, simply put, a modern classic. If you read it, you'll never forget it. Prophetic, terrifying, uplifting.” —Stephen King
From the bestselling author of Ohio, a masterful American epic charting a near future approaching collapse and a nascent but strengthening solidarity.
In the first decades of the 21st century, the world is convulsing, its governments mired in gridlock while a patient but unrelenting ecological crisis looms. America is in upheaval, battered by violent weather and extreme politics. In California in 2013, Tony Pietrus, a scientist studying deposits of undersea methane, receives a death threat. His fate will become bound to a stunning cast of characters—a broken drug addict, a star advertising strategist, a neurodivergent mathematician, a cunning eco-terrorist, an actor turned religious zealot, and a brazen young activist named Kate Morris, who, in the mountains of Wyoming, begins a project that will alter the course of the decades to come.
From the Gulf Coast to Los Angeles, the Midwest to Washington, DC, their intertwined odysseys unfold against a stark backdrop of accelerating chaos as they summon courage, galvanize a nation, fall to their own fear, and find wild hope in the face of staggering odds. As their stories hurtle toward a spectacular climax, each faces a reckoning: what will they sacrifice to salvage humanity’s last chance at a future? A singular achievement, The Deluge is a once-in-a-generation novel that meets the moment as few works of art ever have.
Isabelle Drake has never been the same since her toddler Mason was taken from his crib. In the year since the disappearance, Mason’s case has gone cold and Isabelle has been unable to sleep, kept awake by her desperation to find him. When she agrees to be interviewed by a true crime podcaster in the hopes of putting the story back in the spotlight, Isabelle finds herself under her interviewer’s magnifying glass as she herself starts to doubt what happened that night in this relentless thriller.
In the face of recent personal losses, thirty-year-old John agrees to accept a job offer from a friend, teaching Ukrainian customer service agents how to sound more American. But once in the Ukraine, John feels destabilized from the unfamiliar social customs and his romantic interest in one of his co-workers. Worse still, after being horrified at hearing his neighbor beating his wife through the thin apartment walls, John offers his neighbor money to stop, with devastating consequences. Vacillating between wry humor and horrifying tragedy, CALLING UKRAINE puts Johannes Lichtman’s range on display.
National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and author of Such Good Work Johannes Lichtman returns with a novel that is strikingly relevant to our times—about an American who takes a job in Ukraine in 2018, only to find that his struggle to understand the customs and culture is eclipsed by a romantic entanglement with deadly consequences.
Shortly after his thirtieth birthday, John Turner receives a call from an old college friend who makes him an odd job offer: move to Ukraine to teach customer service agents at a startup how to sound American. John’s never been to Ukraine, doesn’t speak Ukrainian, and is supposed to be a journalist, not a consultant. But having just gone through a break-up and the death of his father, it might just be the new start he’s been looking for.
In Ukraine, John understands very little—the language and social customs are impenetrable to him. At work, his employees are fluent in English but have difficulty grasping the concept of “small talk.” And although he told himself not to get romantically involved while abroad, he can’t help but be increasingly drawn to one of his colleagues.
Most distressing, however, is the fact that John can hear, through their shared wall, his neighbor beating his wife. Desperate to help, John decides to offer the neighbor 100,000 hryvnias to stop. It’s a plan born out the best intentions, but one that has disastrous repercussions that no amount of money or altruism can resolve.
Like Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station and Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You, Calling Ukraine reimagines the American-abroad novel. Moving effortlessly between the comic and the tragic, Johannes Lichtman deploys his signature wry humor and startling moral acuity to illuminate the inevitable complexities of doing right by others.
Song Yan has given up on her dream of being a concert pianist, but she hasn’t given up on having a child with her resistant husband. As household tensions mount, Song Yan begins to receive packages of mysterious mushrooms—the same ones that appear in her dreams—which she and her mother-in-law learn to cook and bond over. When Song Yan receives an invitation from the mushrooms’ sender, leading her to an uncanny hideout that houses a long-missing famed pianist, her life tumbles deeper into a surreal exploration of grief, self-expression, and self-discovery.
Based on the tragic true story of the 1811 Richmond theater fire, THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE follows four people whose lives will be forever changed—and intertwined—the night that the historic theater goes up in flames. That night, wealthy widow Sally is in one of the sold-out box seats, hoping to relive happy nights with her husband; Cecily is seated in the colored gallery looking for an escape from her recent bad news; stagehand Jack is backstage hoping to impress company managers; and blacksmith Gilbert is miles away, trying to buy his wife’s freedom.
The author of Florence Adler Swims Forever returns with a masterful work of historical fiction about an incendiary tragedy that shocked a young nation and tore apart a community in a single night—told from the perspectives of four people whose actions during the inferno changed the course of history.
Richmond, Virginia 1811. It’s the height of the winter social season, the General Assembly is in session, and many of Virginia’s gentleman planters, along with their wives and children, have made the long and arduous journey to the capital in hopes of whiling away the darkest days of the year. At the city’s only theater, the Charleston-based Placide & Green Company puts on two plays a night to meet the demand of a populace that’s done looking for enlightenment at the front of a church.
On the night after Christmas, the theater is packed with more than six hundred holiday revelers. In the third-floor boxes, sits newly-widowed Sally Henry Campbell, who is glad for any opportunity to relive the happy times she shared with her husband. One floor away, in the colored gallery, Cecily Patterson doesn’t give a whit about the play but is grateful for a four-hour reprieve from a life that has recently gone from bad to worse. Backstage, young stagehand Jack Gibson hopes that, if he can impress the theater’s managers, he’ll be offered a permanent job with the company. And on the other side of town, blacksmith Gilbert Hunt dreams of one day being able to bring his wife to the theater, but he’ll have to buy her freedom first.
When the theater goes up in flames in the middle of the performance, Sally, Cecily, Jack, and Gilbert make a series of split-second decisions that will not only affect their own lives but those of countless others. And in the days following the fire, as news of the disaster spreads across the United States, the paths of these four people will become forever intertwined.
Based on the true story of Richmond’s theater fire, The House Is on Fire offers proof that sometimes, in the midst of great tragedy, we are offered our most precious—and fleeting—chances at redemption.
In this unnerving thriller, Robert Reid has moved his family to the remote Scottish island Kilmeray, eager to blend in and hide a dark secret. But as the locals continue to reject him, Robert begins to unravel. Meanwhile, miles away, Maggie MacKay has known something was wrong with her since the day in her childhood when she announced that a man on Kilmeray had been murdered—the only problem was she had no evidence and had never been there. Now, she travels to the ominous island determined to uncover the truth.
From the author of the “dark and devious...beautifully written” (Stephen King) Mirrorland comes a richly atmospheric thriller set on an isolated Scottish island where nothing is as it seems and shocking twists lie around every corner.
A remote village. A deadly secret. An outsider who knows the truth.
Robert Reid moved his family to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides in the 1990s, driven by hope, craving safety and community, and hiding a terrible secret. But despite his best efforts to fit in, Robert is always seen as an outsider. And as the legendary and violent Hebridean storms rage around him, he begins to unravel, believing his fate on the remote island of Kilmeray cannot be escaped.
For her entire life, Maggie MacKay has sensed something was wrong with her. When Maggie was five years old, she announced that a man on Kilmeray—a place she’d never visited—had been murdered. Her unfounded claim drew media attention and turned the locals against each other, creating rifts that never mended.
Nearly twenty years later, Maggie is determined to find out what really happened, and what the islanders are hiding. But when she begins to receive ominous threats, Maggie is forced to consider how much she is willing to risk to discover the horrifying truth.
Unnerving, enthralling, and filled with gothic suspense, The Blackhouse is a spectacularly sinister tale readers won’t soon forget.
Emily’s life isn’t going as planned. An aspiring novelist, she finds herself making a living writing for women’s catalogs. And despite having a handsome photographer boyfriend, Emily can’t quite seem to commit. Meanwhile, her best friend at work gets laid off, leaving her more alone than ever. When an unplanned pregnancy throws Emily’s life even further off course, she will have to decide who must be extinguished from her life and who will remain constant in this sensitive portrait of a woman’s life and choices.
The author of the “ethereal and brutally realistic” (The New York Times) Tuesday Nights in 1980 returns with a highly anticipated new novel exploring what it means to be a woman in her many forms—daughter, friend, partner, lover, and mother.
Emily writes for women’s catalogs for a living, but she’d rather be writing books. She has a handsome photographer boyfriend, but she actively wonders how and when they will eventually hurt each other. Her best work friend Megan is her lifeline, until Megan is abruptly laid off. When her world is further upended by an unplanned pregnancy, Emily is forced to make tough decisions that will change her life forever.
What will she sacrifice from her old life to make room for a new one? What fires will she be forced to extinguish, and which will keep burning? Old Flame is a story about the essential—and often existential—choices that define a woman’s life at every level, from which dress to wear to when to have a child to how to be in the world.
West Mills, North Carolina, 1976. Three mysterious siblings are found murdered in their home. All of West Mills’s segregated citizens—black and white—are caught up in the frenzy of the first local murder in decades. Josephine Wright, who’s just returned to West Mills to marry her childhood sweetheart, “Lymp,” is determined to solve the crime once she realizes that Lymp, who also happens to be the murder victims’ half-sibling, is the prime suspect. But the deeper Jo digs, the more secrets—and local lives—she upends.
Like T. J. Newman’s bestselling debut, FALLING, DROWNING is a pulse-pounding thriller that draws on Newman’s knowledge of planes from her career as a flight attendant. Just a few minutes after takeoff, Flight 1421 plunges into the Pacific Ocean and floods, trapping twelve passengers more than two hundred feet below the surface. Two of the survivors are engineer Will Kent and his eleven-year-old daughter, Shannon. Above water, Will’s soon-to-be-ex wife and professional diver, Chris, is determined to stage a rescue with her team to get Will, Shannon, and all the other passengers back to shore . . . before they run out of air.
Flight attendant turned New York Times bestselling author T. J. Newman—whose first book Falling was an instant #1 national bestseller and the biggest thriller debut of 2021—returns for her second book, an edge-of-your-seat thriller about a commercial jetliner that crashes into the ocean, and sinks to the bottom with passengers trapped inside, and the extraordinary rescue operation to save them.
Six minutes after takeoff, Flight 1421 crashes into the Pacific Ocean. During the evacuation, an engine explodes and the plane is flooded. Those still alive are forced to close the doors—but it’s too late. The plane sinks to the bottom with twelve passengers trapped inside.
More than two hundred feet below the surface, engineer Will Kent and his eleven-year-old daughter Shannon are waist-deep in water and fighting for their lives.
Their only chance at survival is an elite rescue team on the surface led by professional diver Chris Kent—Shannon’s mother and Will’s soon-to-be ex-wife—who must work together with Will to find a way to save their daughter and rescue the passengers from the sealed airplane, which is now teetering on the edge of an undersea cliff.
There’s not much time.
There’s even less air.
With devastating emotional power and heart-stopping suspense, Drowning is an unforgettable thriller about a family’s desperate fight to save themselves and the people trapped with them—against impossible odds.
In this family saga-turned-literary-dystopian-novel, Iris Prince thinks her life is finally setting itself straight: her divorce is finalizing, she has a new house she loves, and she finally has time to spend with her nine-year-old daughter. But, unbeknownst to her, a Silicon Valley start-up has just launched “the Band”—a piece of wearable tech that tracks people and documents their citizenship. Soon, Iris finds herself labeled as “unverifiable origin,” trapped in an atmosphere of fear and hate that threatens to suffocate her and those she loves.
Brando Skyhorse, the PEN/Hemingway Award–winning author of The Madonnas of Echo Park, returns with a riveting literary dystopian novel set in a near-future America where mandatory identification wristbands make second-generation immigrants into second-class citizens—a powerful family saga for readers of Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West and Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind.
Iris Prince is starting over. After years of drifting apart, she and her husband are going through a surprisingly drama-free divorce. She's moved to a new house in a new neighborhood, and has plans for gardening, coffee clubs, and spending more time with her nine-year-old daughter Melanie. It feels like her life is finally exactly what she wants it to be.
Then, one beautiful morning, she looks outside her kitchen window—and sees that a wall has appeared in her front yard overnight. Where did it come from? What does it mean? And why does it seem to keep growing?
Meanwhile, a Silicon Valley startup has launched a high-tech wrist wearable called "the Band." Pitched as a convenient, eco-friendly tool to help track local utilities and replace driver's licenses and IDs, the Band is available only to those who can prove parental citizenship. Suddenly, Iris, a proud second-generation Mexican-American, is now of "unverifiable origin," unable to prove who she is, or where she, and her undocumented loved ones, belong. Amid a climate of fear and hate-fueled violence, Iris must confront how far she'll go to protect what matters to her most.
My Name Is Iris is an all-too-possible story about family, intolerance, and hope, offering a brilliant and timely look at one woman’s journey to discover who she can’t—and can—be.
Cinnamon knows she has a good life: a stable marriage, a job she likes, a lovely home. But recently, she’s started to want more. Meanwhile, teenaged Daisy is devastated when she realizes she’s pregnant. After hiding the information from everyone she knows, she abandons the baby in the park, only for Cinnamon to find the newborn. As Cinnamon struggles against the new tensions in her marriage and her community over her decision to adopt a white baby, Daisy has to contend with her own family’s relentless attempts to prevent a Black woman from raising their grandchild.
The acclaimed authors of the “emotional literary roller coaster” (The Washington Post) and Good Morning America book club pick We Are Not Like Them return with this moving and provocative novel about a Black woman who finds an abandoned white baby, sending her on a collision course with her past, her family, and a birth mother who doesn’t want to be found.
Cinnamon Haynes has fought hard for a life she never thought was possible—a good man by her side, a steady job as a career counselor at a local community college, and a cozy house in a quaint little beach town. It may not look like much, but it’s more than she ever dreamed of or what her difficult childhood promised. Her life’s mantra is to be good, quiet, grateful. Until something shifts and Cinnamon is suddenly haunted by a terrifying question: “Is this all there is?”
Daisy Dunlap has had her own share of problems in her nineteen years on earth—she also has her own big dreams for a life that’s barely begun. Her hopes for her future are threatened when she gets unexpectedly pregnant. Desperate, broke, and alone, she hides this development from everyone close to her and then makes a drastic decision with devastating consequences.
Daisy isn’t the only one with something to hide. When Cinnamon finds an abandoned baby in a park and takes the blonde-haired, blue-eyed newborn into her home, the ripple effects of this decision risk exposing the truth about Cinnamon’s own past, which she’s gone to great pains to portray as idyllic to everyone…even herself.
As Cinnamon struggles to contain old demons, navigate the fault lines that erupt in her marriage, and deal with the shocking judgments from friends and strangers alike about why a woman like her has a baby like this, her one goal is to do right by the child she grows more attached to with each passing day. It’s the exact same conviction that drives Daisy as she tries to outrun her heartache and reckon with her choices.
These two women, unlikely friends and kindred spirits must face down their secrets and trauma and unite for the sake of the baby they both love in their own unique way when Daisy’s grandparents, who would rather die than see one of their own raised by a Black woman, threaten to take custody.
Once again, these authors bring their “empathetic, riveting, and authentic” (Laura Dave, New York Times bestselling author) storytelling to an unforgettable novel that revolves around provocative and timely questions about race, class, and motherhood. Is being a mother a right, an obligation, or a privilege? Who gets to be a mother? And to whom? And what are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of marriage, friendship, and our dreams?
Photo credit: iStock / puhimec