2016 First Novel Prize Winner:

Kia Corthron for

The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter


Kia Corthron was awarded the Center for Fiction's 2016 First Novel Prize for her debut novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter (Seven Stories Press). Last year's winner, Viet Thanh Nguyen, presented the award to her at our Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on Tuesday, December 6th at The Metropolitan Club. 


The hotly anticipated first novel by lauded playwright and The Wire TV writer Kia Corthron, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter sweeps American history from 1941 to the twenty-first century through the lives of four men—two white brothers from rural Alabama, and two black brothers from small-town Maryland—whose journey culminates in an explosive and devastating encounter between the two families. READ MORE

The Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize


Our First Novel Prize is awarded to the best debut novel published between January 1st and December 31st of the award year. The author of the winning book is awarded $10,000 and each shortlisted author receives $1,000. The shortlist and winner are chosen by a panel of five distinguished writers, including the previous year's winner of the prize. For full guidelines please visit our submissions PAGE


Previous winners include Marisha Pessl for Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Viking), Junot Díaz for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead/Penguin), Hannah Tinti for The Good Thief (The Dial Press), John Pipkin for Woodsburner (Doubleday/Nan A. Talese), Karl Marlantes for Matterhorn (Atlantic Monthly Press with El León Literary Arts), Bonnie Nadzam for Lamb (Other Press), Ben Fountain for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco/HarperCollins), Margaret Wrinkle for Wash (Atlantic Monthly Press), Tiphanie Yanique for Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead Books), and Viet Thanh Nguyen for The SympathizerFor a closer look at these novels please visit our PREVIOUS WINNERS PAGE

 Viet Thanh Nguyen, Winner of our 2015 First Novel Prize for The Sympathizer


Viet Thanh Nguyen was awarded the Center for Fiction's 2015 First Novel Prize for his debut novel, The Sympathizer (Grove Press). The 2014 Prize-winner, Tiphanie Yanique, presented the award to him at our Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner last December at The Metropolitan Club. 


A profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel, The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, someone whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties. In dialogue with but diametrically opposed to the narratives of the Vietnam War that have preceded it, this novel offers an important and unfamiliar new perspective on the war: that of a conflicted communist sympathizer. read more

The judges this year were Tiphanie Yanique, Siri Hustvedt, Ann Packer, and Akhil Sharma, along with a representative from The Center for Fiction. 

New Books by Shortlisted Authors


Take a look at what the winners and finalists of our First Novel Prize have been up to. READ MORE