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12/05/2017 10:02 am ET Updated Dec 05, 2017

Our Favorite First Lines From New (And Newish) Books

These story openers will draw you in—and leave you wanting to read more.
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The brilliant Irish novelist John Banville delivers a pitch-perfect sequel to Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady.

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A teenage girl obsesses over her falling-out with her best friend and rages inwardly at the sexist imbalance of society.

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In these unsettling stories by the young British writer Sarah Hall, fantasy encroaches on the concrete zone of real life, overturning expectation, and exciting the imagination.

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Silber’s skillful novel weaves together the lives and voices of a young single mother in New York, her reckless boyfriend, and her characterful, well-traveled aunt.

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This provocative collection of modern fables of feminine identity and desire, by the late British novelist and essayist Jenny Diski, comes to American readers for the first time.

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In Clemmons’ thoughtful debut novel, a young woman with South African and North American roots struggles with her identity and an unplanned pregnancy while wrestling with her mother’s death.

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A nonfiction examination of modern adultery and marriage.

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In this rueful and funny novel, the narrator, a 30-year old woman, moves home for a year after her father develops Alzheimer’s disease.

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The novelist presents her first collection of short stories, glittering gems in which female identity and the supernatural blend and blur, eerily distorting everyday perception.

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The narrator has married a man who has two teenage children, and an ex-wife who haunts the new marriage.

 
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Sexton deftly layers the struggles of three generations of a middle-class black family in New Orleans to deflect the buffets of adversity, racism and weather—and to endure.

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12. The Readymade Thief

A brainy thriller for the internet age, about a detached, daring, underprotected teenage girl who narrowly escapes sex slavery by a band of tech-savvy Dadaist art obsessives.

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Ward’s third novel takes the reader on a haunting, heartbreaking road trip through the American South, with a family fractured by racism, addiction and prison, but bound to each other through love.

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14. Her Body and Other Parties

Fairy tale, feminism, science fiction and a splash of horror blend in Machado’s fervidly original short stories.

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