The Center for Fiction’s inaugural First Novel Prize (then called the John Sargent, Sr. First Novel Prize) was awarded to Marisha Pessl for her debut novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Viking) in 2006. Read about Special Topics in Calamity Physics below and browse 2006’s shortlisted titles.
This annual award was created in 2006 to honor the best first novel of the year. Debut novels published between January 1 and December 31 of the award year are eligible. The winner is announced in December at our Annual Awards Benefit.
- Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (Viking)
- The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo by Peter Orner (Little, Brown, and Company)
- The Dissident by Nell Freudenberger (Ecco/HarperCollins)
- Cellophane by Marie Arana (Dial)
- Send Me by Patrick Ryan (Dial)
Special Topics in Calamity Physics
By Marisha Pessl
Published by Viking
A darkly hilarious coming-of-age novel and suspense tale told through the voice of its heroine, Blue van Meer. Blue is clever, deadpan, and possesses a vast lexicon of literary, political, philosophical, and scientific knowledge. In her final year of high school at an elite North Carolina school, Blue falls in with a charismatic group of friends and their teacher, Hannah Schneider. Structured around a syllabus for a Great Works of Literature class and containing ironic visual aids (drawn by the author), the novel combines suspense, self-parody, and storytelling.