Everyone loves a debut, and here’s one that’s not an author’s but a publisher’s: Christina Hwang Dudley’s Pride and Preston Lin (March 19) is the first adult title from Third State Books, a new San Francisco–based publisher devoted to books from Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. As you can tell from the title, it belongs to the far-from-new genre of Pride and Prejudice updates, and “a new one has to be truly special to stand out,” as our starred review points out. “This one is.”

Dudley’s heroine, Lissie Cheng, is balancing college with work at her aunt and uncle’s restaurant when she makes what could have been a terrible mistake: She serves a dish with hidden seafood paste to a customer with an allergy. The customer’s friend, full-of-himself Preston Lin, writes an article for the Stanford Daily excoriating Lissie and naming the restaurant. Will they get past their antipathy? Here’s a hint from our review: “Dudley’s contemporary [romance] debut is faithful to its source material but finds clever ways to make it work in a modern setting, while also adding an authentic Chinese American perspective.”

Leanne Toshiko Simpson’s debut, Never Been Better (Putnam, March 5), is a surprising combination of humor and insight, laughs and pain. Dee Foster, who has bipolar disorder, met her two best friends in a psychiatric ward; now Matt and Nisa are getting married in Turks and Caicos, and Dee is determined to break them up. “Full of sharp, pithy dialogue and farcical scenes that will put a grin on your face, this story about love, friendship, and family also offers hard-won wisdom about mental health and the myths that surround it,” according to our starred review.

Having written two collections of short stories—Young Skins (2015) and Homesickness (2022)—Irish author Colin Barrett has now produced a debut novel, Wild Houses (Grove, March 19), that explores life on the unemployed fringes of rural Ireland. Dev Hendrick is a semi-orphaned 20-year-old living on the dole when he gets involved in his drug-dealing cousins’ scheme to extract money from a former comrade, Cillian English, by kidnapping his teenage brother. “While focusing on one fraught weekend,” our starred review says, “Barrett takes the time to let the reader get to know the characters involved in this mess in all their complicated and sometimes heartbreaking glory.”

Second novels can sometimes get lost in the excitement over debuts, but I don’t think Xochitl Gonzalez has to worry about that happening to Anita de Monte Laughs Last (Flatiron, March 5), the follow-up to her acclaimed Olga Dies Dreaming (2022). It’s even more timely coming so soon after the death in January of Carl Andre, the sculptor whose acquittal for the murder of his wife, artist Ana Mendieta, informed Gonzalez’s plot. In 1985, Anita de Monte is an artist whose success threatens the ego of her husband, Jack Martin, a more famous artist. In 1998, Raquel Toro is an art history student from a working-class Puerto Rican background who’s writing a thesis on Jack’s work some years after Anita fell out a window and died. Our starred review says: “An uncompromising message, delivered via a gripping story with two engaging heroines.”

Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.