TTT: New to Me Authors I Read in 2017

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is about “new-to-me” authors read in 2017.   This is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.   Many of these authors published debut novels which I read.  Others have been long established, but I was just getting to their work.  Most biographical information has been paraphrased or quoted directly from wikipedia.  Are you familiar with these authors?  What authors did you read in 2017 that were new to you?

  1. Ruth Ozeki (born March 12, 1956) is an American Canadian author, filmmaker and Zen Buddhist priest.  Her books and films, including the novels My Year of Meats (1998), All Over Creation (2003), and A Tale for the Time Being (2013), seek to integrate personal narrative and social issues, and deal with themes relating to science, technology, environmental politics, race, religion, war and global popular culture. Her novels have been translated into over thirty languages. She is a Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College.                                                                                                     I read A Tale For Time Being, a novel taking place in two countries decades apart yet simultaneously, which was published in 2013.
  2. Viet Thanh Nguyen (born March 13, 1971)is a Vietnamese American novelist.  Nguyen was born in Buon Me Thuot, Vietnam in 1971, the son of immigrants from North Vietnam who moved south in 1954. After the fall of Saigon, in 1975, his family fled to the United States. Nguyen’s family first settled in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, which was one of four American camps that accommodated refugees from Vietnam. Nguyen’s family then moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania until 1978.   His family later moved to San Jose, California, where they opened up a Vietnamese grocery store, one of the first of its kind in the area.  Nguyen  briefly attended the University of California Riverside and UCLA before finally deciding to finish his studies at the University of California, Berkeley, from where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in May 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in English and Ethnic Studies.  He went on to receive his Ph.D. in English from Berkeley in May 1997. That year, he moved to Los Angeles for a teaching position as an assistant professor at the University of Southern California in both the English Department, and in the American Studies and Ethnicity Department. In 2003, he became an associate professor in the two departments.  Nguyen’s debut novel, The Sympathizer, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction among other accolades.  He received a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2017.                                                                                                   I read Nguyen’s short story collection, The Refugees, published early in 2017.
  3. Dan Choan was adopted and grew up in a village of 20 people outside of Sidney, Nebraska. His father was a construction worker and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. As a middle schooler, Chaon wrote a fan letter to Ray Bradbury, beginning a correspondence that continued for several years. Chaon graduated from Northwestern and received his MA from Syracuse. He was married to the late writer Sheila Schwartz and has two sons. He lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio and teaches creative writing at Oberlin College.                                               I read Dan Choan’s Ill Will, a psychological thriller, published in the first half of 2017.
  4. Jenny Zhang (born 1983) is an American writer, poet, and prolific essayist based in Brooklyn, New York.   One focus of her work is on the Chinese American immigrant identity and experience in the United States.  Zhang was born in Shanghai, China. When she was five years old, Zhang immigrated to New York City to join her father, who was studying linguistics at New York University, and mother, who had come to the United States after the Chinese Cultural Revolution.                                                                                                                          I read Jenny Zhang’s debut short story collection, Sour Heart, published in 2017 under the LENNY imprint.
  5. Zadie Smith (born on October 25, 1975) is a British novelist, essayist, and short-story writer.  Smith was born Sadie Smith in the north-west London borough of Brent to a Jamaican mother, Yvonne Bailey, and an English father, Harvey Smith.  At the age of 14, she changed her name to Zadie.   Her mother grew up in Jamaica, and emigrated to England in 1969.  Smith’s parents divorced when she was a teenager. She has a half-sister, a half-brother, and two younger brothers (one is the rapper and stand-up comedian Doc Brown, and the other is the rapper Luc Skyz). As a child, Smith was fond of tap dancing, and in her teenage years, she considered a career in musical theatre. While at university, Smith earned money as a jazz singer, and wanted to become a journalist. Despite earlier ambitions, literature emerged as her principal interest.                                                                             I read Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, which seems very autobiographical based on her biography.
  6. Mohsin Hamid (born 23 July, 1971) is a Pakistani novelist, writer and brand consultant.  Hamid spent part of his childhood in the United States, where he stayed from the age of 3 to 9 while his father, a university professor, was enrolled in a PhD program at Stanford University. He then moved with his family back to Lahore, Pakistan, and attended the Lahore American School.  At the age of 18, Hamid returned to the United States to continue his education. He graduated from Princeton University summa cum laude in 1993.  Hamid wrote the first draft of his first novel for a fiction workshop taught by Toni Morrison. He returned to Pakistan after college to continue working on it.  Hamid then attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1997.  Finding corporate law boring, he repaid his student loans by working for several years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company in New York City. He was allowed to take three months off each year to write, and he used this time to complete his first novel Moth Smoke.  Hamid moved to Lahore in 2009 with his wife Zahra and their daughter Dina. He now divides his time between Pakistan and abroad, living between Lahore, New York, London, and Mediterranean countries including Italy and Greece.          I read Hamid’s Exit West, about the experience of refugees and migrants, which was published in 2017.
  7. Rupi Kaur (born October 5, 1992) in Punjab, India, to a Sikh family and emigrated with her parents to Canada when she was four years old. As a child, she was inspired by her mother to draw and paint, especially at a time when she was unable to speak in English with the other children at school.   She used to write poems to her friends on their birthdays or messages to her middle school crushes.  Kaur’s first performance took place in 2009, in the basement of the Punjabi Community Health Centre in Malton.  Among her more notable works is her photo-essay on menstruation, described as a piece of visual poetry intended to challenge societal menstrual taboos.  Common themes found throughout her works include abuse, femininity, love, and heartbreak.                                                                               I read Kaur’s Milk and Honey, which was originally self-published, but later picked up by Andrews McMeel Publishing company.
  8. Karan Mahajan (April 24, 1984) is an Indian-American novelist, essayist, and critic.  Mahajan was born in Stamford, Connecticut, and grew up in New Delhi, India.  He studied English and Economics at Stanford University, before receiving an MFA in fiction from the Michener Center for Writers. In addition to his writing, he has worked as an editor in San Francisco, a consultant on economic and urban planning in New York City, and a researcher in Bangalore. He currently lives in Austin, Texas.  His second novel, The Association of Small Bombs, was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction.                                                                                                                                   I read Mahajan’s The Association of Small Bombs, about terrorists and their victims.
  9. Victor LaValle (born February 3, 1972) is an American author.  Lavalle was raised in Queens, New York by a single mother who had emigrated from Uganda in her twenties. He attended Woodmere Academy and went on to earn a degree in English from Cornell University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Columbia University.  LaValle is an Associate Professor at the Columbia University School of the Arts. He lives in New York with his wife, novelist Emily Raboteau, son and daughter.                                                                                                             I read LaValle’s The Changeling, a modern day horrific fairy tale, published in June 2017.
  10. Amor Towles (born 1964) is an American novelist. He is best known for his bestselling novels Rules of Civility (2011) and A Gentleman in Moscow (2016).  Towles was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Yale College and received an M.A. in English from Stanford University, where he was a Scowcroft Fellow.  From 1991-2012, he worked as an investment professional in New York.  Towles resides in Gramercy Park, Manhattan, New York City, with his wife, Maggie, their son, and their daughter.                                                                                      I read A Gentleman in Moscow, about an aristocrat under house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in the 1920s and 1930s.

11 thoughts on “TTT: New to Me Authors I Read in 2017”

    1. I was so impressed reading Hamid’s biography. What an intelligent interesting man! And yes, Exit West was one of my favorite reads this year.

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