The First Novel Prize is an annual award presented by The Center for Fiction, the only nonprofit literary organization in the U.S. solely dedicated to celebrating fiction.
Created in 2006, The First Novel Prize honors the best debut novel of the year. Debut novels published between January 1st and December 31st of the award year are eligible.
This year, The Center for Fiction awarded the Prize to Raven Leilani for her debut novel, Luster.
Luster by Raven Leilani
No one wants what no one wants. And how do we even know what we want? How do we know we’re ready to take it?
Edie is stumbling her way through her twenties—sharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She is also haltingly, fitfully giving heat and air to the art that simmers inside her. And then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriage—with rules.
As if navigating the constantly shifting landscapes of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics weren’t hard enough, Edie finds herself unemployed and invited into Eric’s home—though not by Eric. She becomes a hesitant ally to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie may be the only Black woman young Akila knows.