“Everyone has a book inside them, which is exactly where it should, I think, in most cases, remain.”

Those were the words of the late author and essayist Christopher Hitchens in 1997 – and many others have expressed similar views.

But it hasn’t stopped thousands of would-be novelists dreaming of writing a bestseller, as evidenced by the scores of creative writing workshops and courses run by universities and colleges.

Even so, few writers get published and of those who do, a tiny percentage become bestselling authors.

However, some debut novelists make a splash from the very first and go on to have stellar careers, including Zadie Smith (White Teeth), Sally Rooney (Conversations with Friends) and Gail Honeyman (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine).

We’ve selected some of the best recent debut novels, including a story set on a remote Norwegian island in the 17th century, the tale of an elderly couple who haven’t spoken to each other for six months and a gothic thriller seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl.

The only things the novels have in common are their originality, their fine writing and the promise of more to come from their authors.

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The verdict: Debut novels

There’s no doubt about it – the last few months have seen the publication of some extraordinary debut fiction. However, The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare stuck in our minds for days after we read it. It’s a powerful, thought-provoking novel – and eminently readable at that. Meanwhile Jessica Moor’s Keeper is the first novel from a writer of huge promise and Beth Morrey’s Saving Missy is an uplifting read with a twist at the end.

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