The 2008 First Novel Prize (then called the John Sargent, Sr. First Novel Prize) was awarded to Hannah Tinti for her debut novel The Good Thief (The Dial Press). Read about The Good Thief below and browse 2008’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 Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (The Dial Press)
- The Story of Forgetting by Stefan Merrill Block (Random House)
- Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
- Dervishes by Beth Helms (Picador)
- Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter by Peter Manseau (Free Press)
- Personal Days by Ed Park (Random House)
- The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski (Ecco/HarperCollins)
The Good Thief
By Hannah Tinti
Published by The Dial Press
Twelve year-old Ren is missing his left hand. How it was lost is a mystery that Ren has been trying to solve for his entire life, as well as who his parents are, and why he was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage for boys. But then a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, claiming to be Ren’s long-lost brother, and his convincing tale of how Ren lost his hand and his parents persuades the monks at the orphanage to release the boy and to give Ren some hope. But is Benjamin really who he says he is? Journeying through a New England of whaling towns and meadowed farmlands, Ren is introduced to a vibrant world of hardscrabble adventure filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves. As Ren begins to find clues to his hidden parentage he comes to suspect that Benjamin not only holds the key to his future, but to his past as well.