Center for Fiction Announces Short List for Flaherty-Dunnan Prize

The Center for Fiction and the American Booksellers Association have announced the short list for the 2012 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. Of the seven finalists for the prize, the winner—to be announced in December—will receive $10,000.

The seven short-listed titles include: Absolution (Riverhead Books) by Patrick Flanery; Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco) by Ben Fountain; The Dog Stars (Knopf) by Peter Heller; Girlchild (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by Tupelo Hassman; The Snow Child (Reagan Arthur Books) by Eowyn Ivey; Seating Arrangements (Knopf) by Maggie Shipstead; and Alif the Unseen (Grove/Atlantic) by G. Willow Wilson. Each of the finalists will receive $1,000.

Established in 2005 as the John Sargent, Sr. First Novel Prize, the Flaherty-Dunnan Prize is given annually for a debut novel published in the previous year. Author and Center for Fiction board member Nancy Dunnan, who has supported the award since 2010, renamed it for her father, the journalist Ray W. Flaherty. 

In order to help promote the seven short-listed titles, the New York City-based Center for Fiction announced a new partnership with the American Booksellers Association this past January. The ABA will select 450 United States bookstores to receive displays, posters, and other promotional materials for the seven books. Additionally, sixty-five independent booksellers from across the country were asked to serve as first-round readers for the 2012 prize.

“We believe that there are no better readers than the people who continue against all seeming odds to own and operate independent bookstores,” Center for Fiction executive director Noreen Tomassi said in a press release. Once the first round of readers recommended a long list, a panel of judges comprised of distinguished American writers then selected the seven finalists.

The winner will be announced at the Center for Fiction’s annual benefit and awards dinner on December 11 in New York City.

Past winners of the prize include The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead Books) by Junot Díaz; Lamb (Other Press) by Bonnie Nadzam; Matterhorn (Grove/Atlantic) by Karl Marlantes; Woodsburner (Nan A. Talese) by John Pipkin; The Good Thief (The Dial Press) by Hannah Tinti; and Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Viking) by Marisha Pessl.