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Small Press Authors Among First Novel Prize Finalists

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A blog from: Poets & Writers Magazine

Posted by Prize Reporter on 8.12.10

The Center for Fiction in New York City announced its shortlist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize (formerly known as simply the First Novel Prize). The honorees include three small press authors, one of whom was later published by a major house after a prize nomination led to increased demand.

That writer is Karl Marlantes, nominated for Matterhorn (Grove/Atlantic), which was initially acquired by editor Tom Farber at El León Literary Arts, a small outfit in Berkeley, California. "This huge book couldn't at first find an agent or a publisher," journalist Leah Garchik wrote of the novel in the San Francisco Chronicle. "Farber recognized its power. Take heart, writers."

The other finalists for the Center for Fiction's ten-thousand-dollar award are:

Michelle Hoover, a descendant of generations of farming families, for The Quickening (Other Press). She now teaches at Boston University and the Boston literary center Grub Street.

Jessica Francis Kane of New York City for The Report (Graywolf Press), which follows her debut story collection, Bending Heaven (Counterpoint, 2002).

Ethiopian-born Maaza Mengiste, a graduate of the MFA program at New York University, for Beneath the Lion's Gaze, published by Norton. In 2007 she was named a "Literary Idol" by New York Magazine's readers.

Julie Orringer for The Invisible Bridge, her follow-up to her debut story collection, How to Breathe Underwater, both published by Knopf. She is an Iowa Writers' Workshop alumna and a former Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford.

Drew Perry of North Carolina, who has also published poetry, for This Is Exactly Like You (Viking).

Nashville (via New York City) writer Adam Ross for Mr. Peanut (Knopf). Ross received his MFA from Washington University.

The winner will be announced by last year's winner, John Pipkin, on December 6 at a ceremony in New York City. Each runner up will receive, for the first time in the prize's history, a one-thousand-dollar award.

In the video below, Marlantes discusses the urgency to write his novel, a project he worked on for thirty years. (Also on YouTube: Hoover reveals the historical materials, photographs and a journal, that inspired her book.)

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