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2020 First Novel Prize: The Longlist

Check out these books, whose merits have gotten them longlisted for the Center For Fiction's prestigious First Novel Prize for 2020.

Playlist Tags: awards: first novel prize

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My Dark Vanessa

A Novel
By Kate Elizabeth Russell
Narrated by Grace Gummer /  15 hours 36 minutes

My Dark Vanessa

“In this gripping debut novel, a teenage girl falls into an affair with her English teacher, who is 30 years her senior. The voice of Vanessa, the narrator, is unparalleled in its honesty, and her emotions are fiercely conveyed with unrelenting realness. This novel is a timely and important read, sometimes difficult, but ultimately an unforgettable experience. You will be left astonished and transformed. Vanessa is formidable and so is her story; you won’t be able to put down this powerhouse of a novel.”

Luisa Barbano image Luisa Barbano, Oblong Books & Music
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$34.49 USD

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Valentine

A Novel
By Elizabeth Wetmore
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell & Jenna Lamia /  10 hours 20 minutes

Valentine

“This story has just... I'm gobsmacked. It was a love letter to west Texas and the women who live there. It was a pointed finger to the way sexism and racism beat people down until they, as Mary Rose says as she aimed her Winchester, "need to kill someone." The language could be as dry as a tapped oil field at times while rising at others to become as lush and colorful as a sunrise in a place where the horizon stretches forever.”

Page 158 Books image Jenny, Page 158 Books
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$31.04 USD

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Antkind

A Novel
By Charlie Kaufman
Narrated by Fred Berman /  25 hours 41 minutes

The bold and boundlessly original debut novel from the Oscar®-winning screenwriter of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Synecdoche, New York.

LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE • “A dyspeptic satire that owes much to Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon . . . propelled by Kaufman’s deep... Read more »

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$42.00 USD

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Conjure Women

A Novel
By Afia Atakora
Narrated by Adenrele Ojo /  13 hours 58 minutes

A mother and daughter with a shared talent for healing—and for the conjuring of curses—are at the heart of this dazzling first novel
 
LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE • “Lush, irresistible . . . It took me into the hearts of women I could otherwise never know. I was transported.”—Amy Bloom, New York Times bestselling... Read more »

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$31.50 USD

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August

A Novel
By Callan Wink
Narrated by Kirby Heyborne /  11 hours 31 minutes

A boy coming of age in a part of the country that’s being left behind is at the heart of this dazzling novel—the first by an award-winning author of short stories that evoke the American West.

LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE • “August reads like early Hemingway, retooled for the present.”—William Finnegan, Pulitzer... Read more »

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$31.50 USD

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Real Life

A Novel
By Brandon Taylor
Narrated by Kevin R. Free /  9 hours 25 minutes

A FINALIST FOR THE 2020 BOOKER PRIZE

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' CHOICE


“A blistering coming of age story” O: The Oprah Magazine

A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town, from an electric new voice.


Almost everything about Wallace is at odds with the Midwestern university town where he is... Read more »

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$28.00 USD

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Under the Rainbow

A Novel
By Celia Laskey
Narrated by Phoebe Strole, Abigail Revasch, Will Damon, Lisa Flanagan, Michael Crouch, Kaleo Griffith, Kristen Sieh, Jonathan Todd Ross, Dani Martineck, Brittany Pressley & Lorna Raver /  7 hours 40 minutes

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize

“Delivered with such conviction and grace … fresh … essential.” —The New York Times Book Review

When outsiders on a mission arrive to change a small town’s attitudes, residents and newcomers alike end up transformed.

Big Burr, Kansas is the kind of place where everyone seems to know... Read more »

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$24.50 USD

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How Much of These Hills Is Gold

A Novel
By C Pam Zhang
Narrated by Joel de la Fuente & Catherine Ho /  9 hours 8 minutes

How Much of These Hills Is Gold

“If ever a book could be compared to a vegetable, this book is an onion. Starting from its center; a Chinese-American family is living and working in a mining town when teenagers Sam and Lucy have to leave when their father dies. Layers upon layers ensue with beautiful narration to tell the story of a family that spent their life searching for a place and a feeling to call HOME.”

The Yankee Bookshop image Nichole, The Yankee Bookshop
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$28.00 USD

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The Illness Lesson

A Novel
By Clare Beams
Narrated by Ann Marie Lee /  10 hours 14 minutes

"Astoundingly original, this impressive debut belongs on the shelf with your Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler collections."--New York Times Book Review

Named a most anticipated book of 2020 by Time, Vanity Fair, Esquire, O Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, BookRiot, Domino, and LitHub

"Brilliant, suspenseful...A masterpiece."--Elizabeth...
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$28.00 USD

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Bestiary

A Novel
By K-Ming Chang
Narrated by Catherine Ho, Nancy Wu & Ren Hanami /  8 hours 59 minutes

Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this spellbinding, visceral debut about one family’s queer desires, violent impulses, and buried secrets.

LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE • “Epic and intimate at once, Bestiary brings myth to visceral life. K-Ming Chang's talent... Read more »

Price:

$28.00 USD

Available for pre-order

Publication date: September 29, 2020

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The All-Night Sun

A Novel
By Diane Zinna
Narrated by Brittany Pressley /  10 hours 38 minutes

A lonely young woman gets too close to her charismatic female student in this propulsive debut, culminating in a dangerously debauched Midsommar’s Eve. 

LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE • “Memorable and meaningful.”—Claire Messud, New York Times bestselling author of The Burning Girl

Lauren Cress teaches writing at a small... Read more »

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$28.00 USD

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True Story

A Novel
By Kate Reed Petty
Narrated by Kristen Sieh, Alexander Cendese & Cassandra Campbell /  8 hours 34 minutes

True Story

“A brilliant mind-bender of a novel that uses different methods of storytelling to illustrate how storytelling creates different versions of truth (if truth even exists) and reality. Are we the stories we tell ourselves? Or do we become the stories that are told about us? This is the question True Story asks as it peels away layer after layer of the narrative. Part fever dream, part timely comment on sexual assault, and part psychological thriller, True Story will keep you turning pages and guessing until the genius, puzzle-completing ending. I LOVED this book!”

DIESEL, A Bookstore image Debra Ginsberg, DIESEL, A Bookstore
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$24.50 USD

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Memorial

A Novel
By Bryan Washington
Narrated by Bryan Washington & Akie Kotabe / 

"This book, in what feels like a new vision for the 21st century novel, made me happy." —Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

"This book made me think about the nature of love, and family, and anger, and grief, and love again."  —Jasmine Guillory, author of The Wedding Date and The Proposal

A funny and profound story about family... Read more »

Price:

$24.50 USD

Available for pre-order

Publication date: October 27, 2020

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Luster

A Novel
By Raven Leilani
Narrated by Ariel Blake /  6 hours 39 minutes

Luster

“Luster is a hand grenade disguised as a coming of age novel. It's everything you want in a bildungsroman -- it's intimate, funny, and daring -- but in Raven Leilani's skilled hands it is also volatile and complex, a profound meditation on the intersection of race and loneliness, a thorny examination of sexuality and trauma, of power and privilege, and the subtle interplay between all of the above. It's also so absorbing and compelling that it's hard not to read it in one sitting. With 4 months to go, this is my favorite book published in 2020 so far.”

The Book Table image Rachel, The Book Table
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$22.99 USD

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The Henna Artist

A Novel
By Alka Joshi
Narrated by Sneha Mathan /  10 hours 55 minutes

A NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER

A REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICK

“Eloquent and moving…Joshi masterfully balances a yearning for self-discovery with the need for familial love.”—Publishers Weekly

Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern,... Read more »

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$31.04 USD

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Indelicacy

A Novel
By Amina Cain
Narrated by Lauren Ezzo /  3 hours

Amina Cain's extraordinary fiction has been said to take place in "a strangely ageless world somewhere between Emily Dickinson and David Lynch" (Blake Butler), and this, her debut novel, is no exception. Indelicacy introduces us to a cleaning woman at an art museum who nurtures aspirations to do more than simply dust the paintings around her.... Read more »

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$22.99 USD

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Shuggie Bain

By Douglas Stuart
Narrated by Angus King /  17 hours 30 minutes

This is the unforgettable story of young Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher’s policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city’s notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie’s mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is... Read more »

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$24.99 USD

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Kept Animals

A Novel
By Kate Milliken
Narrated by Rebecca Lowman /  10 hours 41 minutes

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize

Kept Animals is a darkly beautiful book, tender yet powerful, an exquisite exploration of hurt and desire, the why of wanting, taking, and giving. And Kate Milliken knows her stuff when it comes to horses.” —Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses

“In this... Read more »

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$27.59 USD

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Sharks in the Time of Saviors

By Kawai Strong Washburn
Narrated by Jolene Kim, Kaleo Griffith, G.K. Bowes & Tui Asau /  10 hours 37 minutes

Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a groundbreaking debut novel that folds the legends of Hawaiian gods into an engrossing family saga; a story of exile and the pursuit of salvation from Kawai Strong Washburn. In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean.... Read more »

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$28.74 USD

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