Tag Archives: Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize

Best Books 2014

The best books lists are starting to appear. I will note a few that feature debuts.

The Huffington Post calls attention to Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You, which I wrote about last week.They also feature two other debuts:

  • Nobody is Ever Missing, by Catherine Lacey. This book tells the story of a woman who flees Manhattan for New Zeland. It is described as a beautifully written book of a lost woman trying to find herself.
  • The Story of Land and Sea, by Katy Simpson Smith. A historical novel set in North Carolina during the American Revolution, which tells the multi-generational story of a family.

NPR packaged their top book picks into a “book concierge” site. It’s a fun site to explore with plenty of titles to discover. You can sort titles by witty book categories like, “rather long” or “funny stuff,” to find books that might appeal. Under “realistic fiction,” I found Ng’s book, along with 2 a.m. at the Cat’s Pajamas, by Marie-Helen Bertino, which I reviewed earlier this year. They also featured Smith Henderson’s Fourth of July Creek, which explores the relationship between and boy and a social worker in Montana. It has been described as a moving and powerful read and has been shortlisted for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize.

And over at Goodreads, their community singled out three debuts in the fiction category, all which I’ve mentioned at some time this year:

I hope these lists inspire you to pick up a new book for yourself or something to gift to someone else. The book I review next, which I did not see on any of these lists, was one of my favorite debuts of the year, Island of a Thousand Mirrors, by Nayomi Munaweera.


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Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize–2014 Short List

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.



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Debuts in the news…

Fall is book prize time and The Center for Fiction announced the short list for their Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize last week. A wide range of eight books made it to this list; I will write about two.

Anthony Marra’s, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, has been getting a lot of press and looks like an intriguing look at war. Set it Chechnya in 2004, it tells the story of a young girl whose father is abducted by Russian forces.

Another book on their list, which I had not heard about before, is Motherlunge by Kirstin Scott. A voice-driven novel about motherhood and family, Motherlunge won the AWP Prize for the Novel.

Meanwhile, the National Book Foundation announced their 5 under 35 honorees for 2013. All five choices were women this year, which is nice to see. All of the writers also just published (or are about to publish) debut books. Two of the authors whose novels came out in the U.S. in 2013 are: NoViolet Bulawayo’s, We Need New Names (which is also on the Booker shortlist) and Amanda Coplin’s The Orchardist.

And finally, for you foodies out there, Ruth Reichl will be publishing her first novel with Random House next year.





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