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The First Novel Prize

The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, first awarded in 2006, was created to honor the best debut fiction of the year. The winner receives a $15,000 prize and each shortlisted author receives $1,000.

The First Novel Prize is given to a debut novel published in the United States between January 1st and December 31st of the competing year. The 2023 submission window will be open from January 23rd to March 17th. The longlist will be announced in July, followed by the shortlist in September. In December, the shortlisted authors will be celebrated at our First Novel Fête and the winner will be announced at our Awards Benefit. We relish this opportunity to continue supporting and encouraging the art of fiction in the United States.

2023 Submission Details

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2021 Winner: Kirstin Valdez Quade

Kirstin Valdez Quade received The Center for Fiction 2021 First Novel Prize for The Five Wounds (W. W. Norton & Company). Our 2020 winner, Raven Leilani, presented the award to Quade on December 7, 2021 at our Annual Awards Benefit and 200th Anniversary Celebration hosted by Fran Lebowitz.

2020 Winner: Raven Leilani

Raven Leilani received The Center for Fiction 2020 First Novel Prize for Luster (Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan). Our 2019 winner, De’Shawn Charles Winslow, presented the award to Leilani on December 3, 2020 at our virtual Annual Awards Benefit hosted by Yvonne Orji.

2019 Winner: De'Shawn Charles Winslow

De’Shawn Charles Winslow received The Center for Fiction 2019 First Novel Prize for In West Mills (Bloomsbury). Monique Truong presented the award to Winslow on December 10, 2020 at our Annual Awards Benefit hosted by Eisa Davis.

2023 First Novel Prize Schedule
  • Titles must have a publication date between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023
  • The submission window will open on January 23, 2023
  • The submission window will close on March 17, 2023
  • The longlist will be announced in July 2023
  • The shortlist will be announced in September 2023
  • The winner will be announced at our Benefit in December 2023

2023 Eligibility Requirements

Click here to review the 2023 eligibility requirements, learn about the selection process, and more.


Book Cover Medallions

The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize medallions are available for the covers of winning, shortlisted, and longlisted titles. Questions? Please contact Celeste Kaufman at [email protected] for more information.