Akwaeke Emezi and Nafkote Tamirat are on the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize 2018 longlist that was announced on June 14.
The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize is an annual award presented by The Center for Fiction, a non-profit organization in New York, USA. The award is given to the best debut novel published between January 1 and December 31 of the award year. The prize-winning author receives $10,000 while each finalist receives $1,000. Previous winners of the prize include Junot Diaz, Margaret Wrinkle, and Marisha Pessi. Yep. No African. Yet.
The longlist for this year’s edition of the prize was announced and there are two Africans in the running. They are Nigerian Akwaeke Emezi and Ethiopian Nafkote Tamirat.
Akwaeke Emezi shot to literary fame when she won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2017 in the African region for her story Who Is Like God. She has since had her debut novel Freshwater published which includes as part of the introductory blurb;
“When Ada travels to America for college, a traumatic event crystallizes the selves into something more powerful. As Ada fades into the background of her own mind and these alters—now protective, now hedonistic—move into control, Ada’s life spirals in a dangerous direction.”
Nafkote Tamirat’s debut novel The Parking Lot Attendant is described as a mesmerizing, indelible coming-of-age story about a girl in Boston’s tightly-knit Ethiopian community who falls under the spell of a charismatic hustler out to change the world.
The winner of the award is usually announced in December.
UPDATE: The prize was awarded to Tommy Orange for is novel There There (Alfred E Knopf) at a ceremony on December 11, 2018.