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2023 First Novel Prize — Eligibility, Selection Process & More

The submission window for The Center for Fiction 2023 First Novel Prize will be open from January 23, 2023 through March 17, 2023. The award will be given to a debut novel published in the United States between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023. This year’s longlist will be announced in July 2023, followed by the shortlist announcement in September 2023. The winner is announced in December 2023 at our Annual Awards Benefit. We are very excited for this opportunity to continue supporting and encouraging the art of fiction in the United States.

The 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, with each shortlisted author receiving $1,000. Last year’s First Novel Prize was awarded to Noor Naga for If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English (Graywolf Press).

All entry forms and books must be postmarked no later than March 17, 2023. Entry forms and books may be sent separately.

Guidelines  |  Entry Form  |  Pay Entry Fee

  • Only first-time novelists who are American citizens or permanent residents are eligible for this award. Authors who have previously published novels in other countries are NOT eligible, even if the book in question is their first to be published in the U.S.
  • Only full-length first novels written in English are eligible.  Novellas, collections of short stories, whether related or unrelated, and YA novels are NOT eligible.
  • Novels in ALL genres are welcome.
  • Only books published for the first time in the United States between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023 are eligible. We prefer that these be submitted as finished copies, if available. Bound galleys and bound, edited manuscripts are also acceptable.
  • All submissions must be postmarked by March 17, 2023.
                ATTN: Randy Winston
                The First Novel Prize
                The Center for Fiction
                15 Lafayette Avenue
                Brooklyn, NY 11217
  • Books previously published elsewhere are NOT eligible. This includes self-publishing the book previously.
  • Self-published books and eBook only editions are NOT eligible.
  • There is no limit on the number of books entered by each publisher, provided each submission complies with the rules as above.
  • In the event of a dispute as to eligibility, The Center for Fiction will decide whether a book is eligible, and its decision will be binding.

Selection Process

Carefully selected members of the Center’s network of book-lovers, which includes writers, librarians, booksellers, staff, and members and friends of The Center for Fiction, will act as first-tier readers. The longlist recommended by these readers is then forwarded to a committee of distinguished American writers. From those recommended novels, our panel of judges chooses the shortlist and the winner. (Our judges in 2022 were Matt Bell, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Megha Majumdar, Rebecca Makkai, and Chigozie Obioma.)


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.

Questions about the First Novel Prize?

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