The Center for Fiction 2022 Annual Awards Benefit took place on Tuesday, December 6th, 2022 at Cipriani 25 Brodaway. The evening was emceed by Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author Jennifer Egan and featured virtuoso performances by internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Marta Sánchez.
Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka was honored with The Center for Fiction Lifetime of Excellence in Fiction Award. To mark the occasion, Soyinka appeared in conversation with The Center for Fiction’s Board Chair Erroll McDonald. The Center for Fiction also recognized Kenneth Chenault, this year’s Honorary Benefit Chair, and honored Sarah McGrath, Editor-in-Chief of Riverhead Books, with The Center for Fiction 2022 Medal for Editorial Excellence, which was presented by New York Times bestselling author Brit Bennett.
In a tribute to Booker Prize-winning author and The Center for Fiction Writers Council member Salman Rushdie, following the violent attempt on his life earlier this year, authors Bill Buford and Colum McCann read passages from Rushdie’s work.
Noor Naga was awarded The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize for If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English (Graywolf Press). Author Rebecca Makkai presented Naga with the award, which carries with it a prize of $15,000.
If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English was selected by a panel of distinguished American writers—Matt Bell, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Megha Majumdar, Rebecca Makkai, and Chigozie Obioma. The shortlist also included Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades (Penguin Random House/Random House), The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan (Simon & Schuster), NSFW by Isabel Kaplan (Macmillan/Henry Holt and Company), Little Rabbit by Alyssa Songsiridej (Bloomsbury Publishing), Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan (W. W. Norton & Company/Liveright), and The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara (W. W. Norton & Company). The shortlisted authors each received $1,000.
Funds raised by The Center for Fiction Annual Awards Benefit support our public performance events, KidsRead / KidsWrite programming for NYC public school students, and The Center for Fiction / Susan Kamil Emerging Writer Fellowships. Thank you to everyone, near and far, who made this such a remarkable evening.