2021 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

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 winner & finalists for the First Novel Prize!


2021 Winner:
The Five Wounds by Kristin Valdez Quade



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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.


The 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: 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.  200 The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. The Revelations by Erik Hoel 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: 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: 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: 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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