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The First Novel Prize

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 receives a $10,000 prize with each shortlisted author receiving $1,000. The winner is announced each December at The Center for Fiction’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner.

2020 First Novel Prize

Click here to review the 2020 eligibility requirements, learn about the selection process, download an entry form, and more! This year’s deadline is March 15th!

De'Shawn Charles Winslow WINS THE 2019 FIRST NOVEL PRIZE

De’Shawn Charles Winslow is the 2019 winner of our First Novel Prize for In West Mills (Bloomsbury). Monique Truong presented the award to Winslow on Tuesday, December 10, at our Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner.


Tommy Orange has been awarded the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize for his debut novel, There There (Alfred A. Knopf). Last year’s winner, Julie Lekstrom Himes, presented the award to him at our Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on Tuesday, December 11th at The Cunard Building.


Julie Lekstrom Himes was our 2017 award recipient for her novel Mikhail and Margarita (Europa Editions). Kia Corthron was our 2016 award recipient for her novel The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter (Seven Stories Press). Previous winners include Marisha Pessl for Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Viking), Junot Díaz for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead/Penguin), Hannah Tinti for The Good Thief (The Dial Press), John Pipkin for Woodsburner (Doubleday/Nan A. Talese), Karl Marlantes for Matterhorn (Atlantic Monthly Press with El León Literary Arts), Bonnie Nadzam for Lamb (Other Press), Ben Fountain for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco/HarperCollins), Margaret Wrinkle for Wash (Atlantic Monthly Press), Tiphanie Yanique for Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead Books), and Viet Thanh Nguyen for The Sympathizer (Grove Press).