The Center for Fiction 2022 First Novel Prize Longlist Announced

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Tracy Shapley Towley

Staff Writer

Tracy is a freelance copywriter, all-around ne’er do well, very-adult graduate of the University of Iowa, and occasional waterer of plants. Her hobbies include writing fiction, reading fiction, mixing together various flavors of soup, and typing letters to her friends on an old red typewriter that doesn't have a working period so all sentences must end in questions marks or exclamation points? She has read every Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and has a lot of thoughts on them. Her old Iowa farmhouse is shared by her husband Sean, a pair of cats, a pair of dogs, and the ghost of Kurt Vonnegut.

I am the absolute last person who needs this information so please, let me pass it on it on to you: The Center for Fiction has announced its longlist for the 2022 First Novel Prize.

The longlist is twenty-four books long, narrowed down from more than 140 titles that have been or will be published in 2022. That narrowing was done by nearly 100 volunteer readers made up of writers, booksellers, and librarians, along with staff and members of the Center for Fiction.

Five judges will choose a shortlist and eventually a winner. The names of those judges have not yet been released but we they will be “distinguished authors.” For reference, the authors that chose the 2021 winner (The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade) were: Alexander Chee, Susan Choi, Yaa Gyasi, Raven Leilani, and Dinaw Mengestu.

The books that make it to the shortlist will be announced on a TBD date in the fall, and the winner will be announced at The Center for Fiction Annual Awards Benefit on December 6th, 2022.

First awarded in 2006, the First Novel Prize honors — you guessed it — the best debut fiction of the year. The prize is $15,000 to the winner and $1,000 to each of the shortlisted titles. Recent winners include Luster: A Novel by Raven Leilani, In West Mills by De’Shawn Charles Winslow, and There There by Tommy Orange.

The 2022 longlisted books are:

Remember that most public libraries accept purchase requests. So if you see something you want to read and your library doesn’t have it yet, you can always ask.