The Center for Fiction just announced the longlist for this year’s best debut novel. The shortlist will be announced in September and the winner will be announced in December at The Center for Fiction’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner at its new, spacious, happening location in Brooklyn.
Without further ado, here’s the longlist:
Melissa Rivero, The Affairs of the Falcóns (Ecco)
Rivero talks with Katie Gutierrez about balancing writing with motherhood. The Affairs of the Falcóns is also featured in our Reading Women podcast in a conversation about being poor in the richest country on earth.
Lauren Wilkinson, American Spy (Random House)
Listen to Wilkinson speak to So Many Damn Books podcast about how American Spy both is and isn’t a spy novel or opt for reading an excerpt of the book instead.
Katherine Forbes Riley, The Bobcat (Arcade)
A novel raved about by the likes of Alexander Chee, The Bobcat is “a tale of reflection, recovery and romance augmented by animal symbolism.” What else do you need to be convinced?
Dana Czapnik, The Falconer (Atria Books)
Czapnik writes that she can see, smell, hear the protagonist of The Falconer, Lucy Adler, in her head—in case you were wondering, this is a phenomenon among readers too, which is scientifically termed “experiential crossing.”
Joe Wilkins, Fall Back Down When I Die (Little, Brown & Company)
Having grown up in rural America—an essay you can read here—Wilkins asks of his readers: “We shouldn’t be asking, ‘What’s wrong with rural America?’ Rather, we might ask, ‘What can we learn from rural America?’”
Jake Wolff, The History of Living Forever (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
To understand Wolff’s research process for this book, read his excellent advice to young writers about incorporating research in fiction.
Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin Press)
In case you were curious, Ocean Vuong is considered a “reluctant optimist” and these are some of our takeaways from his conversation about writing his novel with Alexander Chee.
Tope Folarin, A Particular Kind of Black Man (Simon & Schuster)
Winner of the 2013 Caine Prize—Africa’s top literary prize—Tope Folarin is included in the list of
Ryan Chapman, Riots I Have Known (Simon & Schuster)
Chapman wrote about how McDonalds might have been the biggest influence on his debut novel, and chatted with Maris Kreizman on the Lit Hub podcast, The Maris Review.
Rachel Eve Moulton, Tinfoil Butterfly (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
FSG calls this The Shining meets About a Boy–a troubled young woman and a lonely boy facing their demons in the frozen Black Hills.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Water Dancer (One World/Random House)
Check out an excerpt from Coates’ remarkable book Between the World and Me here, a book Zinzi Clemmons calls #BlackLivesMatter’s foundational text.
Maurice Carlos Ruffin, We Cast a Shadow (One World/Random House)
Read an interview with Ruffin, who Jami Attenberg calls the “first literary citizen of New Orleans”; plus Ruffin on New Orleans in the age of Trump, how the effects of white supremacy are non-transferable, and on being a patriotic black Southern.