While not as well known as the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Booker Prize, or Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize has a strong track record of promoting gifted writers early in their career. The prize was first awarded in 2006; the winner receives $15,000 and the shortlisted authors receive $1,000. Previous winners include Raven Leilani, Tommy Orange, Kia Corthron, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Tiphanie Yanique, and Ben Fountain.
The Center for Fiction, which was founded in 1820 as the Mercantile Library, is the only nonprofit literary organization in the U.S. dedicated to celebrating fiction. They sponsor panels, lectures, and other literary events, and provide grants to support emerging writers. The Center also hosts book groups and provides free books to NYC students. Their new building in downtown Brooklyn includes an independent bookstore, a cafe, and a bar. Profits are used to support their nonprofit programs.
The seven books on the shortlist were narrowed down from a longlist of 27 books (they’re listed alphabetically by author).
- The City of Good Death by Priyanka Champaneri (Restless Books)
- Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng (Simon & Schuster)
- The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (HarperCollins / Harper)
- Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith (Penguin Random House / Random House)
- No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood (Penguin Random House / Riverhead Books)
- Brood by Jackie Polzin (Penguin Random House / Doubleday)
- The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade (W. W. Norton & Company)
The finalists will choose actors to read an excerpt from their novel at the First Novel Fete on December 3. The winning novel will be announced at the Annual Awards Benefit and 200th Anniversary Celebration on December 7.
Read about the novels on the shortlist here.
Among the novels on the longlist were Radiant Fugitives by Nawaaz Ahmed, The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris, The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr., City of a Thousand Gates by Rebecca Sacks, Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian, The Archer by Shruti Swamy, Olympus Texas by Stacey Swann, and Animal by Lisa Taddeo.