2021 First Novel Prize Longlist

Logo: The Center for Fiction

The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize was created in 2006 to honor the best first novel of the year.  Debut novels published between January 1 and December 31 of the award year are eligible.  Check out the 2021 longlist for the First Novel Prize!


2021 Longlist

Book cover: Radiant Fugitives by Nawaaz Ahmed.  Cover art features a bouquet of red flowers in front of a blue background, with yellow lines curving up and cover the flowers. Book cover: Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour. Cover art features a brown hand holding a black coffee cup with a red top. On the cup, blocky multicolored letters in different fonts spell out the title and author, with a skyscraper standing in for the letter L in "Black." The backgrond is bright yellow.  Book cover: The Baddest Girl on the Planet by Heather Frese. Cover art features a red and orange stylized portrait of a woman, her head tipped back and her sunglasses reflecting the blue of water and sky. Book cover: Edie Richter is Not Alone by Rebecca Handler. Cover art features a simple color drawing of a road winding into the distance, toward orange hills and a turquoise sky with a small red sun in the upper left corner. Book cover: Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng. In front of a tan background, disconnected triangles, rhombi, and squares make up the vague shape of a running person. Some triangles featured faded music, some have faded blue natural scenery, and others feature red photos of a suspension bridge. Book cover: Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer by Jamie Figueroa. Orange and purple artwork shows two human profiles, one inside the other, surrounded by swirling lines. Book cover: When I ran Away by Ilona Bannister. Cover art features a light turquoise sky with clouds, with small blue and red shapes floating though the air.  Book cover: The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. An orange background has two partial images superimposed on one another. In one, a yellow tree sits beneath a yellow orb, in the other, a left eye, nose, and top lip hover in grey. Book cover: The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris. Cover art features red-yellow fire licking at the bottom and the top of a tan background, with two red-yellow faces looking at one another in profile, from the book's edges. Book cover: The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. Cover art features a yellow sun meeting a tan horizon, with the colors of sky moving from blue to white, and forming the shape of two human profiles, facing upward. Book cover: The Revelations by Erik Hoel. Cover art features five banners featuring the title and author. Three banners are dark, two in rainbow, and these span the width of the book in five curves. Behind them is a blue-aquamarine ombre. Book cover: Build your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith. In front of a green background, a collage creates the image of a human face in profile and a long braid, with each strand a different texture (a blue sky, red scales, yellow crops, a leaf, shelves, and more) Book cover: A Little Hope by Ethan Joella. Behind the white title is a photograph of a red kite among autumn trees and a blue sky. Book cover: The City of Good Death by Priyanka Champaneri. Cover art is blue and faded, with 3 symmetrical amorphous shapes down the center line.  The thin, decorated title is orange and yellow. Book cover: No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood. A rainbow stretched across a partially cloudy sky, and a oval prism, around the hovering title, bends the light from the sky and rainbow. Book cover: Hades, Argentina by Daniel Loedel. Cover art is fuzzy and staticky white, blue, pink, and red Book cover: Cormorant Lake by Faith Merino. Between curved blocks of color simulating waves in blues and blacks, three upward-facing human profiles barely poke out: one dark orange, one bright orange, and one dark purple. Book cover: We Are Watching Ezra Bright by A. E. Osworth. In front of a multicolor faded background and the blocky yellow title, dozens of clicker icons pepper the book cover. Book cover: Brood by Jackie Polzin. In front of a blue background, multicolored, painted feathers spread like a bouquet from the left side of the book cover. Book cover: The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller. Cover art: Beneath a white and blue sky, two figures walk in the snow toward a blue river and a ramshackle structure. Beyond them are rocky mountains streaked with snow. Book cover: The City of a Thousand Gates by Rebecca Sacks. Geometric artwork in blue and white makes up the shape of a city skyline. Book cover: The Five Wounds by Kristin Valdez Quade. In front of a red, wood-textured background, two yellow-black hands reach out, palms up. Book cover: Dava Shastri's Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti. A woman in a white shirt folds her fingers together and looks toward the bottom left. She wears round black sunglasses, a dangling earring, a white shirt, and several bangles. Book cover: Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian. A large yellow circle sits in the middle of the cover, surrounded by an intricate border of gold, turquoise, and brown. In each corner is a quarter-circle of red, with a small house inside. Book cover: The Archer by Shutri Swamy. A dark-skinned woman dances in a billowing blue dress, her face a blur of movement and her left arm extended outwards and upwards. Behind her is a swirling pattern in brown. Book cover: Animal by Lisa Taddeo. In the center of the offwhite cover, surrounded by the blocky black text of the title, is a purple and red image of a woman looking at the camera, unsmiling. Book cover: Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann.  A simple painting of a gnarled tree in front of a sunset. In the distance, a white house sits by a blue river, which snakes across the distance.


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