Abby Geni and Mathew Desmond Are the 2016 Discover Great New Writers Award Winners

This afternoon, the winners of the 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers® Awards were announced in a ceremony in New York City.  The awards are presented annually in recognition of literary excellence. The six finalists for the Discover Great New Writers Awards were chosen by two panels of noted authors from the 42 titles handpicked by our booksellers for the Discover Great New Writers program in 2016.

First Place, Fiction: Abby Geni, The Lightkeepers

A young woman finds herself at the center of a murder mystery and surrounded by an unreliable cast of characters on a remote archipelago in Abby Geni’s sublime debut novel. (Counterpoint/PGW)

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First Place, Nonfiction:  Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Matthew Desmond’s reportage puts human faces on an overlooked but real national crisis, presenting a mix of Americans telling their own stories about poverty and eviction.

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Second Place, Fiction: Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing

Yaa Gyasi’s indelible novel follows two branches of a family—one in America and the other in Africa–over 300 years. (Alfred A. Knopf/Penguin Random House)

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Second Place, Nonfiction: Hope Jahren, Lab Girl

As a rule, people live among plants but they don’t really see them. Hope Jahren’s spirited memoir sprouts the vibrant story of a life studying trees, flowers, seeds and soil — and takes readers deep into the hidden wonders of the biosphere.  (Alfred A.Knopf/Penguin Random House)

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Third Place, Fiction: Jung Yun, Shelter

How much do we really owe our family —  and what do we owe ourselves? These are the questions at the heart of Jung Yun’s provocative debut novel, which unfolds from a household’s financial crisis into a gripping saga of violence, its causes and aftershocks. (Picador/Macmillan)

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Third Place, Nonfiction: Patrick Phillips, Blood at the Root

Patrick Phillips brings to life an ugly and harrowing episode of American history in this meticulously researched and powerfully written history of his hometown, and the violence that kept the community all white, well into the 1990s. (W.W. Norton)

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The first place winners in Fiction and Nonfiction each receive a $30,000 prize and a year of marketing and merchandising support from Barnes & Noble.  Second and third place winners are awarded prizes of $15,000 and $7500, respectively.


The 2016 Discover Award Judges for Fiction:

Wiley Cash is the New York Times bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Discover Great New Writers selection A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy. His third novel is forthcoming from William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. Wiley 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 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017. His fiction and nonfiction 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 Lovers, The Vacationers, and the Discover pick Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, and the short story collection Other People We Married. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published in Vogue, New York Magazine, Tin House, The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, and The Paris Review Daily, and she is a contributing writer to Rookie.

The 2016 Discover Award Judges for Nonfiction:

Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of fifteen 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 from Penguin Random House in 2017. She 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 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. Her work has appeared in Esquire, GQ, Playboy, Elle, W, The New York Times Book Review, New York Magazine, and on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” She was the inaugural columnist for The New York Times Op-Ed “Townies” series, and is currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Interview Magazine.

Brando Skyhorse is the author of a novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, which was 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 Take This Man: A Memoir was named by Kirkus Reviews as one the Best Nonfiction Books of the year. He is currently co-editing an anthology on passing, forthcoming from Beacon Press. Skyhorse has taught at New York University, George Washington University, and Wesleyan University. He joined the Bennington College faculty in 2016.