The books in this round-up post are all debut novels from independent publishers.

Albert Alla, Black Chalk (2013)

Black ChalkThe sole survivor of a classroom shooting, Nate Dillingham becomes something of a media celebrity, and can’t escape being asked about what happened wherever he goes – to the point that his memory starts to blur. Several years later, Nate is back in Oxford and embarks on a relationship that takes him back to the fateful day. The novel takes a reflective tone, chronicling Nate’s changing thoughts over the years, and exploring the effects on him of both the shooting and having to replay it over the years – until the truth is finally revealed. Published by Garnet Publishing.

Michelle Flatley, My Beautiful England (2013)

This novel tells the stories of three women who meet at an English-lanuage class in Burnley: Sumalee from Thailand, who married a middle-aged Englishman after losing her husband in the 2004 tsunami; Samina fom Pakistan, who lives with her husband and nine more relatives; and Lenka from Poland, whose abusive husband has left her. Flatley shows how the reality of life in England does not match up to what the women had imagined it would be; and examines the tensions at work as her characters try to adjust to living in a new culture. The result is a tale that’s harrowing and uplifting by turns. Published by Cutting Edge Press.

Saga Takeshi, Crashman (2013)


This is a short, fragmented novel whose narrator appears variously to be caught up in plane crashes; going through life unnoticed by others; working listlessly in some office job; and imagining/remembering a beautiful woman. Is the narrator dead? Caught in a nightmare? Something else? As the book progresses, the author weaves in transcripts of actual cockpit recordings from crashing planes; though these seem a little out of place at first, the technique pays off brilliantly at novel’s end, when we finally gain a devastating insight into what happened to our man. Published by Gigolo Publishing.

Kirk Kjeldsen, Tomorrow City (2013)

When a job he’s on goes wrong, crook Brendan Lavin steals his cousin’s passport and flees New York. Twelve years on, he has a new family in Shanghai and his life of crime is behind him – or so he thinks; his old crew have other ideas, and need him for something. Tomorrow City is a short thriller whose pace never lets up; it’s also an effective portrait of a (not always sympathetic) character trying to make the best he can from life in tough circumstances. Published by Signal 8 Press.