A Triumph of the Debuts

  • By Suzy Rigdon and Kate Lewis
  • August 3, 2022

Three writers vie for the New American Voices Award.

A Triumph of the Debuts

Three powerhouse debut authors dominate the New American Voices Award’s fifth-anniversary shortlist. Sindya Bhanoo’s short-story collection, Seeking Fortune Elsewhere, Daphne Palasi Andreades’ novel, Brown Girls, and Aamina Ahmad’s novel, The Return of Faraz Ali, are all finalists for the post-publication book prize created to illuminate the complexity of the human experience as told by immigrants.

All three finalists have translated their professional work into stunning debuts exemplifying their craft and showcasing the themes of family, identity, and culture. Bhanoo, a longtime journalist, Ahmad, a playwright, and Andreades, winner of the 2021 O. Henry Prize, share numerous accolades among them.

Five years ago, when Fall for the Book and the Institute for Immigration Research teamed up to create this award, our goal was to focus on burgeoning writers and celebrate new and often underrepresented voices in publishing. We like to say that the festival has “a writer for every reader.” We’ve been able to further this mission through the New American Voices Award, and by celebrating writers like Bhanoo, Andreades, and Ahmad, whose work the judges call “engrossing,” “electric,” and “fierce and tender.” The fact that all three finalists are debuts makes this praise that much more poignant.

The New American Voices Award ceremony is a highlight of the Fall for the Book festival. This year, it will be an in-person celebration on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, in October featuring our debut writers and announcing the winner. Learn more here.

Suzy Rigdon and Kate Lewis are, respectively, festival manager and marketing director for Fall for the Book.

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