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First Novel Prize

2006 First Novel Prize

The Center for Fiction

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)