2017 First Novel Prize

Congratulations to Julie Lekstrom Himes
for Mikhail and Margarita

Winner of the 2017 First Novel Prize



 

Julie Lekstrom Himes was awarded the Center for Fiction's 2017 First Novel Prize for her debut novel, Mikhail and Margarita (Europa Editions). Last year's winner, Kia Corthron, presented the award to her at our Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on Tuesday, December 5th at The Metropolitan Club. 

 

About Mikhail and Margarita 

Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, wrote: “Himes’s confident, carefully crafted debut novel...adeptly details brutality and betrayal as well as creativity and the uncertainties of censorship....” Newsweek called it “an incredibly important read in an era of uncertainty and populism across the globe, but it’s also entertainment in its purest form as it draws the reader in through the emotional resonance of love and loss while retaining a sense of ‘it could happen to you.’”

 

It is 1933 and Mikhail Bulgakov's enviable career is on the brink of being dismantled. His friend and mentor, the poet Osip Mandelstam, has been arrested, tortured, and sent into exile. Meanwhile, a mysterious agent of the secret police has developed a growing obsession with exposing Bulgakov as an enemy of the state. To make matters worse, Bulgakov has fallen in love with the dangerously candid Margarita. Facing imminent arrest, and infatuated with Margarita, he is inspired to write his masterpiece, The Master and Margarita, a scathing novel critical of both power and the powerful.

 

Ranging between lively readings in the homes of Moscow's literary elite to the Siberian Gulag, Mikhail and Margarita recounts a passionate love triangle while painting a portrait of a country whose towering literary tradition is at odds with a dictatorship that does not tolerate dissent. Margarita is a strong, idealistic, seductive woman who is fiercely loved by two very different men, both of whom will fail in their attempts to shield her from the machinations of a regime hungry for human sacrifice. Debut novelist Julie Lekstrom Himes launches a rousing defense of art and the artist during a time of systematic deception, and she movingly portrays the ineluctable consequences of love for one of history's most enigmatic literary figures.

 

About the Author

Julie Lekstrom Himes' short fiction has been published in ShenandoahThe Florida Review (Editor's Choice Award 2008), Fourteen Hills (nominated for Best American Mysteries 2011), and elsewhere. Mikhail and Margarita is her debut novel. She lives with her family in Marblehead, Massachusetts.   

 


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Our First Novel Prize is awarded to the best debut novel published between January 1 and December 31 of the award year. The author of the winning book is awarded $10,000 and each shortlisted author recieves $1,000. 

 

Judges for the 2017 First Novel Prize were Sonya Chung, Anne Landsman, Fiona Maazel, Rick Moody, and Kia Corthron, winner of the 2016 Prize for her debut novel The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter.

 

Click here to learn more about this year's short listed novels.