An Evening with the 2018 First Novel Prize Finalists

Monday December 10, 2018
07:00 pm

Tags: Event

647 Fulton St at Rockwell Place
Brooklyn, NY 11217


We celebrated our seven 2018 First Novel Prize finalists, with readings from their shortlisted books on the evening before the winner was announced at our annual benefit dinner.


This year’s finalists are Lisa Halliday, Jordy RosenbergAkwaeke EmeziNafkote Tamirat, Jen BeaginTommy Orange, and Tadzio Koelb.


The judges for the 2018 First Novel Prize were: Jeffery Renard Allen, Katie Kitamura, Rachel Kushner, Dana Spiotta, and Julie Lekstrom Himes, who won the 2017 First Novel Prize for her book Mikhail and Margarita (Europa Editions). You can learn more about the shortlisted books and the prize here


Space was provided through BRIC's Stoop Share program.



Jen Beagin holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, and is a recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award in fiction. She is the author of Pretend I'm Dead and Vacuum in the Dark. A former cleaning lady, she lives in Hudson, New York.


Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo and Tamil writer and artist based in liminal spaces. Born and raised in Nigeria, they received their MPA from New York University and was awarded a 2015 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship. They won the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa. Their work has been published in various literary magazines, including GrantaFreshwater is their debut novel.


Lisa Halliday grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts and currently lives in Milan, Italy. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review and she is the recipient of a 2017 Whiting Award for Fiction. Asymmetry is her first novel. Please note: due to a scheduling conflict, Lisa will be unable to appear at the Finalist Reading.


Tadzio Koelb is a graduate of the prestigious writing program at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. He has translated André Gide’s work and is an active reviewer and essayist for a variety of publications that include The New York Times and The Times Literary Supplement. He teaches writing at Rutgers University and lives in Brooklyn, New York. 


Tommy Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angels Camp, California.


Jordy Rosenberg is a transgender writer and scholar. He is an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he teaches eighteenth-century literature and gender and sexuality studies. He has received fellowships and awards from the Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation, the Ahmanson Foundation/J. Paul Getty Trust, the UCLA Center for 17th- and 18th-Century Studies, the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, and the Clarion Foundation’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. He is the author of a scholarly monograph, Critical Enthusiasm: Capital Accumulation and the Transformation of Religious Passion. He lives in New York City and Northampton, Massachusetts. Confessions of the Fox is his first novel.


Nafkote Tamirat is a native of Boston. She holds an MFA from Columbia University. Her short stories have appeared in BirkensnakeThe Anemone Sidecar, and Best Paris StoriesThe Parking Lot Attendant is her first novel.