The Center for Fiction announced the short list for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. They tend to recognize unique debuts, and I have found they often select books that address social issues. One of the books, The Enchanted, by Rene Denfeld, I will be reviewing later this fall. It is a moving and fairytale-esque book about a man on death row and the mitigation specialist and priest who work in his prison.
A couple of the books on the list, Fourth of July Creek, by Smith Henderson and We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas have gotten widely reviewed and Thomas’s book has already made it on to the NYTs hardback list.
Two other titles that stood out to me are:
The Great Glass Sea, by Josh Weil is a story of two brothers who live and work in a futuristic Russian town that is covered in glass, as if it were an enormous greenhouse. When they come in contact with the owner of their town their relationship is challenged in a way it has never been before.
Land of Love and Drowning, by Tiphanie Yanique is a multi-genearational family story set in the Virgin Islands. Told in alternating voices the book tells the story of both the family and the islands where they live.
The winner of the prize will be announced at an event in early December. They have a nice tradition of having the previous year’s winner present the award to the new winner. The event also includes readings from all of the short-listed books.