Barnes & Noble Announces Finalists for the 26th Annual Discover Great New Writers® Awards

Press Release

Winners to Be Announced at a Special Ceremony in New York City on Wednesday, March 1

Prize Pool for Winning Writers and Finalists Is More Than $100,000 with Winners Receiving a Year of Promotion from Barnes & Noble

NEW YORK, NY – February 1, 2017 –Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the nation’s largest retail bookseller and a leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products, today announced the six finalists for its prestigious 2016 Discover Great New Writers Awards. The Discover Great New Writers program, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015, recognizes great fiction and nonfiction books from authors at the start of their careers. Since its debut, the program has introduced readers to more than 1,800 extraordinary literary talents, many of whom have gone on to become household names, including Colson Whitehead, Cheryl Strayed, Junot Diaz, Zadie Smith, Anthony Doerr and many more.

The six winners of the Discover Great New Writers Awards will share a cash prize totaling $105,000 and will be announced on Wednesday, March 1, at a private awards ceremony in New York City. The top winners in each category, fiction and nonfiction, will receive a $30,000 prize and a full year of promotion from Barnes & Noble. Second-place finalists will receive $15,000 each, and third-place finalists $7,500 each. 

The finalists for the 2016 Discover Great New Writers Awards are:

Fiction:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Alfred A. Knopf) – This heartbreaking and beautiful novel follows two branches of a family—one in America and the other in Africa—over 300 years.

The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni (Counterpoint Press) – A young woman finds herself at the center of a murder mystery on a remote island in this sublime debut novel.

Shelter by Jung Yun (Picador USA) – A young father is forced to face his past—and his parents—in order to save his family’s future in this domestic drama that is as riveting as it is profound. 

Nonfiction:

Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips (W.W. Norton) – An ugly and harrowing episode of American history is brought to life in this meticulously researched history of the author’s hometown.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond (Crown Publishing Group) – Detailed, first-person reportage puts human faces on a modern American crisis and will change the way readers view poverty today.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (Alfred A.Knopf) –This spirited memoir by a scientist at the top of her game is a moving story of scholarship, friendship and the natural world.

Books by the finalists can be purchased at any Barnes & Noble store, online at Barnes & Noble.com (www.bn.com/discover) or instantly downloaded on any NOOK® eReader or tablet.

The Judges

Two panels of distinguished judges selected the finalists and will also select the winners.

Serving as this year’s fiction judges are:

Wiley Cash is The New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed A Land More Kind Than Home (a Discover Great New Writers selection) and This Dark Road to Mercy. His third novel is forthcoming in 2017.  Cash is writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Fiction and Nonfiction Writing at Southern New Hampshire University.

Benjamin Percy is the author of three novels, two story collections, and a craft book, including The Dead Lands, Red Moon (a Discover Great New Writers selection), and Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction. His fourth novel, The Dark Net, is forthcoming in April 2017. Percy’s fiction and nonfiction articles have been published by Esquire, GQ, Time, Men’s Journal, Outside, The Wall Street Journal and The Paris Review. He also writes the Green Arrow and Teen Titans series at DC Comics®.

Emma Straub is The New York Times bestselling author of the novels Modern LoversThe Vacationers, and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures (a Discover Great New Writers selection)as well as the short story collection Other People We Married. Straub’s fiction and nonfiction writings have been published in Vogue, New York Magazine, Tin HouseThe New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and The Paris Review Daily, and she is a contributing writer to Rookie.

This year’s nonfiction judges are:

Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of 15 books. Her 2003 memoir, She’s Not There: a Life in Two Genders, was the first bestselling book by a transgender American. Her new novel, Long Black Veil, is forthcoming in April 2017. Boylan’s novel The Planets was a 1991 Discover Great New Writers selection. Boylan is the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University; serves as the national co-chair of the Board of Directors of GLAAD; and is a Contributing Opinion Writer for the Op/Ed page of The New York Times.

Sloane Crosley is the author of The New York Times bestselling essay collections, I Was Told There’d Be Cake (also a finalist for The Thurber Prize for American Humor) and How Did You Get This Number, as well as the bestselling novel, The Clasp. Crosley’s work has appeared in EsquireGQPlayboyElleWThe New York Times Book ReviewNew York Magazine, and on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”  Crosley is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Interview Magazine.

Brando Skyhorse is the author of a novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park (a Discover Great New Writers selection), and received both the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for Take This Man: A Memoir. Skyhorse is currently coediting an anthology on passing, forthcoming. Skyhorse joined the Bennington College faculty in 2016.

Books by the judges can be purchased at any Barnes & Noble store, online at Barnes & Noble.com (www.bn.com/discover) or instantly downloaded on any NOOK® eReader or tablet.

The Discover Awards

Since 1990, the Discover Great New Writers program has connected readers with incredible, unforgettable stories which they may have otherwise missed.  In addition to helping customers find their next great read, the program has helped many emerging authors find their audience.

The Discover program's selection committee is comprised of Barnes & Noble booksellers from across the company and around the country. They are voracious readers who meet weekly throughout the year to look for compelling voices, extraordinary writing and indelible stories from literary talents at the start of their careers.

Forty-two books were handpicked for the program in 2016 from the 1,000+ submissions from publishers of all sizes, and from these, the judges select the shortlist and the winners of the Discover Awards.

Past winners of the annual Discover Great New Writers Award include Mia Alvar for In the Country: Stories and Jill Leovy for Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (both 2015), Evie Wyld for All the Birds, Singing (2014), Anthony Marra for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and Justin St. Germain for Son of a Gun (both 2013), Cheryl Strayed for Wild and Amanda Coplin for The Orchardist (both 2012), Joshua Ferris for Then We Came to the End (2007), Ben Fountain for Brief Encounters with Che Guevara (2006), Alison Smith for Name All the Animals (2004), Anthony Doerr for The Shell Collector (2002), Hampton Sides for Ghost Soldiers (2001), Elizabeth McCracken for The Giant’s House (1996), and Chang-rae Lee for Native Speaker (1995).

For more information on the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program, please visit www.bn.com/discover or ask one of the knowledgeable booksellers at any of Barnes & Noble’s 638 stores nationwide.

All Contacts

About Barnes & Noble

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