The Best Debut Novels of 2023 (So Far)

The Best Debut Novels of 2023 (So Far)

Thao Thai discusses her multigenerational debut novel, Banyan Moon, a Vietnamese tale that transports readers. We also discuss the best debut novels of 2023.

Banyan Moon by Thai Thai

We are celebrating the best debut novels of 2023 (so far) with debut novelist Thao Thai, author of Banyan Moon. Set against the stunning backdrop of Vietnam and Florida, this novel will be one of your favorite reads this year. 

This emotional debut novel follows three generations of Vietnamese American women grappling with the death of their matriarch, Minh. As they begin clearing out the sprawling Banyan House, they unravel long-buried secrets about themselves and each other. 

In today’s interview, we discuss what elements of Thao’s personal story made their way into this multigenerational legacy story that spans decades and generations, shedding light on the unique bonds of motherhood. 

Thao shares her family’s intriguing history, from surprisingly sentimental heirlooms to the Vietnamese folk tales woven into this story’s threads. We also discuss the complicated journey of writing mother-daughter relationships and what details were crucial in capturing the motherhood journey. 

I’m excited to share this Thao Thai interview with you and celebrate her beautiful publishing journey.

We would also like to congratulate Thao Thai on being selected for the Read With Jenna Book Club for July 2023!

In a piece for the Today show she shared, “I had been carrying this hope (to be selected) secretly in my heart for so long. I wanted it with every fiber of my being actually. She really picks diverse books that deal with a lot of issues, of family and heritage, and her books have always spoken to me. So the thought of being on that list — I would dream about it, I would literally dream it.”

Since this was one of my favorite debuts of the year, Thao joins me in conversation about some of the best debuts published in 2023. I share some trivia about two of her favorite books and bring a couple of my favorites (so far) to round out this stack. 

The Best Debut Novels of 2023 to Not Miss

Take advantage of today’s bonus book list too! I’ve compiled a complete list of all the best debuts I’ve read this year. It was a fun reading assignment, and I have so many books to share with you today! 

Thao Thai author of Banyan Moon

Meet Thao Thai

Thao Thai lives in Ohio with her husband and daughter. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, WIRED, Sunday Long Read, Catapult, and other publications. She received her MFA from The Ohio State University and her MA from The University of Chicago. Banyan Moon is her first novel. 

The Best Debut Novels of 2023 (So Far)

Listen to the Book Gang Podcast:

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Mentioned in this episode:

2023 MomAdvice Summer Reading Guide

MomAdvice Book Club

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle Book Chat

Banyan Moon by Thao Thai

Tanya Ho Design

The Ringling

Cupcakes and Cashmere

Cup of Jo

Before and After the Book Deal by Courtney Maum

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Did You Hear About Kitty Karr? by Crystal Smith Paul

Exclusive Crystal Smith Paul Interview

Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major

The Best Life Lessons From Time Travel Books (Cesca Major podcast episode)

The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

The Best Escapist Books Set on Islands (Meg Shaffer podcast episode)

The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue

Hula by Jasmin Iolani Hakes

What Lies Behind the Postcard: Jasmin Iolani Hakes on the New Meaning of Summer Reading

Sunshine Nails by Mai Nguyen

Not So Pretty 

Weyward by Emilia Hart

Emilia Hart: “If it doesn’t convince you as the writer, it won’t convince the reader.”

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2023 MomAdvice Summer Reading Guide

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Published June 23, 2023 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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