2018 First Novel Prize

Congratulations to Tommy Orange
for There There

Winner of the 2018 First Novel Prize

 

 

Tommy Orange has been awarded the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize for his debut novel, There There (Alfred A. Knopf). Last year's winner, Julie Lekstrom Himes, presented the award to him at our Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on Tuesday, December 11th at The Cunard Building. 

 

About There There

Tommy Orange’s “groundbreaking, extraordinary” (The New York TimesThere There is the “brilliant, propulsive” (People Magazine) story of twelve unforgettable characters, Urban Indians living in Oakland, California, who converge and collide on one fateful day. It’s “the year’s most galvanizing debut novel” (Entertainment Weekly).
 
As we learn the reasons that each person is attending the Big Oakland Powwow—some generous, some fearful, some joyful, some violent—momentum builds toward a shocking yet inevitable conclusion that changes everything. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and will to perform in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and loss.
 
There There is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seenIt’s “masterful . . . white-hot . . . devastating” (The Washington Post) at the same time as it is fierce, funny, suspenseful, thoroughly modern, and impossible to put down. Here is a voice we have never heard—a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force. Tommy Orange has written a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide. This is the book that everyone is talking about right now, and it’s destined to be a classic.

 

About the Author

Tommy Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angels Camp, California.


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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 2018 First Novel Prize were Jeffery Renard Allen; Katie Kitamura; Rachel Kushner; Dana Spiotta; and Julie Lekstrom Himes, winner of the 2017 First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction.

 

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