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Press Release: Prizes and Awards
The Center for Fiction Announces 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize Shortlist

Posted at 1:03PM Wednesday 03 Sep 2014

New York, September 3, 2014 —The Center for Fiction, founded in 1820 as the Mercantile Library, has announced seven debut novels short-listed for its annual $10,000 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. They are:

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld (Harper)

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson (Ecco)

The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil (Grove Press)

The Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko (The Penguin Press)

Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead Books)

The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson (Little Brown and Company)

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (Simon & Schuster)

The First Novel Prize, launched in 2006, was created as part of the Center's mission to promote the art of fiction in the United States and help further the careers of promising new writers. The short-listed writers will read from their books on the evening of December 8th at the Center for Fiction and the 2014 winner will be announced on the evening of December 9th at The Center for Fiction's Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner in New York City, where last year's First Novel Prize winner, Margaret Wrinkle, will present the award.

This annual prize carries with it a $10,000 cash award. Each of the other short-listed authors will receive a $1,000 award. Judges this year are Margaret Wrinkle, David Gilbert, Tayari Jones, and Sigrid Nunez.

Since 2010, the Center's First Novel Prize has been known as the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, thanks to the very generous support of writer Nancy Dunnan, a member of the board of The Center for Fiction, in honor of her late father, Ray Flaherty, an Iowa writer. Ms. Dunnan passed away this year in August and, so this year the award will be given not only in honor of Ray Flaherty, but also for the first time in honor of Nancy Dunnan as well. Nancy was not only an avid and generous supporter of writers and The Center, she was also an avid reader, still reading her usual five books a week (all borrowed from The Center) even in the last weeks of her life.

Previous winners of the Center's First Novel Prize include Marisha Pessl for Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Junot Díaz for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Hannah Tinti for The Good Thief, John Pipkin for Woodsburner, Karl Marlantes for Matterhorn, Bonnie Nadzam for Lamb, Ben Fountain for Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, and Margaret Wrinkle for Wash.

At its December 9th Dinner, the Center for Fiction will also present the 2014 Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction to Nicole Aragi, founder and agent of Aragi, Inc.


About The Center for Fiction

The Center for Fiction, founded in 1820 as the Mercantile Library of New York, is the only non-profit literary center in the U.S. devoted solely to this vital art form. The mission of The Center for Fiction is to encourage people to read and value fiction, and to support and celebrate its creation and enjoyment.

About the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

Sponsored by writer Nancy Dunnan, the prize honors the memory of her father, Ray Flaherty. A graduate of the University of Iowa, Mr. Flaherty was a correspondent for the Peoria Journal Star and later a columnist and editor with the Chicago Tribune, where one of his assignments was to travel with Charles Lindbergh. After retiring from the Tribune, he wrote several books on the Midwest and farming. He also established a mentoring program for troubled teenage boys, finding them work on his Iowa farms and encouraging them to keep a personal journal.

Ms. Dunnan was the editor and publisher of TravelSmart and author of nearly fifty books, including "The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette" co-authored with Nancy Tuckerman, Doubleday; "How To Invest $50 To $5,000," HarperCollins; "Recession Proof Your Financial Life," published by McGraw-Hill in 2009.

About The 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize Shortlisted Novels

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld (Harper)

The enchanted place is an ancient stone prison, viewed through the eyes of a death row inmate who finds escape in his books and in re-imagining life around him, weaving a fantastical story of the people he observes and the world he inhabits. Two outsiders venture here: a fallen priest and the Lady, an investigator who searches for buried information from prisoners' pasts that can save those soon-to-be-executed.

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson (Ecco)

After trying to help Benjamin Pearl, an undernourished, nearly feral eleven-year-old boy living in the Montana wilderness, social worker Pete Snow comes face to face with the boy's profoundly disturbed father, Jeremiah. With courage and caution, Pete slowly earns a measure of trust from this paranoid survivalist itching for a final conflict that will signal the coming End Times. But as Pete's own family spins out of control, Pearl's activities spark the full-blown interest of the F.B.I., putting Pete at the center of a massive manhunt from which no one will emerge unscathed.

The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil (Grove Press)

Twins Yarik and Dima have been inseparable since childhood. They labor together at the Oranzheria, a sea of glass erected over acres of cropland and lit by space mirrors that ensnare the denizens of Petroplavilsk in perpetual daylight. But an encounter with the Oranzerhia's billionaire owner changes their lives forever and soon both men find themselves poster boys for opposing ideologies that threaten to destroy not only the lives of those they love but the love that has bonded them since birth.

The Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko (The Penguin Press)

Austin Voronkov is many things, an engineer, an inventor, an immigrant from Russia to Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1913, and a husband and father. When Austin is wrongly accused of attending anarchist gatherings his limited grasp of English condemns him to his fate as a deportee, retreating with his new bride to his home in Russia, where he and his young family become embroiled in the Civil War and must flee once again, to Mexico. While Julia and the children are eventually able to return to the U.S., Austin becomes indefinitely stranded in Mexico City, the two of them struggling to remain a family across a distance of two countries.

Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead Books)

In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.

The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson (Little Brown and Company)

Anders Hill, entering his early sixties and seemingly ensconced in the "land of steady habits"—a nickname for the affluent, morally strict hamlets of Connecticut that dot his commuter rail line—abandons his career and family for a new condo and a new life. Stripped of the comforts of his previous identity, Anders turns up at a holiday party full of his ex-wife's friends and is surprised to find that the very world he rejected may be one he needs.

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (Simon & Schuster)

Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed. When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she's found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn't aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream.

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