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The First Novel Prize

2020 First Novel Prize: The Short List


We are pleased to announce that debut novels by Amina Cain, Maisy Card, Hilary Leichter, Raven Leilani, Corey Sobel, Douglas Stuart, and C Pam Zhang have been shortlisted for our 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.

The seven finalists will read from their novels and celebrate their achievement with the wider literary community and its supporters at the Center’s First Novel Fête. The Fête will be held virtually and immediately precede The Center for Fiction’s Annual Awards Benefit on the evening of Thursday, December 3, 2020, which will also be held virtually. The winning novel will be announced during the Awards Benefit, and the author will receive a $15,000 prize. Each of the other finalists will receive $1,000.

“As a cultural institution, we’ve faced unprecedented challenges this year,” says Interim Executive Director Michael Roberts. “However, highlighting the remarkable work of emerging authors will always remain a defining feature of the Center for Fiction’s mission.”

The 2020 Short List:

The First Novel Prize, first awarded in 2006, was created to honor the best debut fiction of the year. We are enormously grateful to a generous donor who has made it possible to increase this year’s winner prize from the previous amount of $10,000 in order to be more supportive of talented emerging writers. Stefan Merrill Block, Halle Butler, Jenny Offill, and De’Shawn Charles Winslow made up this year’s judging panel.