In light of Tea Obreht’s NBA nomination for The Tiger’s Wife, we got to thinking about the other debut novels that have received the honor. Past winners have been Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1953), Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus (1960), and more recently Three Junes (2002) by Julia Glass. But there are many others that we’re fans of.
James Jones’s meaty debut novel follows a group of soldiers stationed in Hawaii in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Sensational in its time, it remains vital today; our nation once again suffering through an economic depression, and our military filled with soldiers who might otherwise be unemployed. And just in time for the repeal of “dont ask don’t tell” the author’s estate recently released the restored edition of the novel* that contains gay sex references which were too controversial to be included when it was first published. Don’t bother with the film. The book is darker and dirtier, and it is long enough to keep you company through the winter. —Jason Porter
*Only available as an e-book.