About 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, 2017 are eligible for this year's prize. 


In years past the winner has received a $10,000 prize with each shortlisted author receiving $1,000. The shortlist for the award will be announced in September 2017 and the prize will be given at The Center for Fiction’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner held in December this year. 


The shortlist and winner are chosen by a panel of five distinguished writers, including the previous year's winner of the prize. Previous winners include Kia Corthron (The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter), Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer), Hannah Tinti (The Good Thief) and Junot Díaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao). See below for the full list of recipients.


We are now closed for 2017 entires to the First Novel Prize. Thank you to everyone who submitted!

Previous Award Winners


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). For a closer look visit PREVIOUS WINNERS PAGE

2016 First Novel Prize Winner: 

Kia Corthron for

The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter


Kia Corthron was awarded the Center for Fiction's 2016 First Novel Prize for her debut novel, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter (Seven Stories Press). Last year's winner, Viet Thanh Nguyen, presented the award to her at our Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on Tuesday, December 6th at The Metropolitan Club. 


The hotly anticipated first novel by lauded playwright and The Wire TV writer Kia Corthron, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter sweeps American history from 1941 to the twenty-first century through the lives of four men—two white brothers from rural Alabama, and two black brothers from small-town Maryland—whose journey culminates in an explosive and devastating encounter between the two families. READ MORE

New Books by Shortlisted Authors


Take a look at what the winners and finalists of our First Novel Prize have been up to. READ MORE