Each year, we ask three writers to serve as Discover Award judges for fiction; we turn first to our alumni, then to other noted writers. This independent panel then decides the shortlist and final rankings from the previous year’s Discover selections, and presents the awards at our annual awards ceremony in NYC.
Novelist Lauren Belfer was born in Rochester, New York, and grew up in Buffalo. She attended Swarthmore College and holds an M.F.A. from Columbia University. Her debut novel, City of Light, was a 1999 Discover selection, a New York Times Notable Book as well as a New York Times bestseller, a Library Journal Best Book, and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. Her most recent novel, A Fierce Radiance, was a Washington Post Best Novel of the Year and an NPR Mystery of the Year. She lives in New York City.
”…[An] impressive debut…. [City of Light is] a stereopticon of a novel, sepia-tinged at the edges yet bursting with color at its center…. What matters…is the vivid sense of the time and place that Ms. Belfer has created…[including] the weight of a social order in which commerce alone conferred power…. Whether we’ve progressed from those times remains highly debatable. But in her powerfully atmospheric book Ms. Belfer makes them seem real and very far away, and at the same time eerily familiar and relevant to the present.” – The New York Times
“Lauren Belfer’s A Fierce Radiance, a genre-blending historical novel, is love story and murder mystery rolled into panoramic family saga and industrial-espionage thriller. It all plays out amid the terrible uncertainty in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor…. Belfer’s prose is heartbreaking, as are her twin themes of love and betrayal, both romantic and familial…. A Fierce Radiance resonates precisely because the characters Belfer creates, and the ones she borrows from history, feel real.” – USA Today
Miwa Messer is the Director of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program, which was established in 1990 to highlight works of exceptional literary quality that might otherwise be overlooked in a crowded book marketplace. Titles chosen for the program are handpicked by a select group of our booksellers four times a year. Click here for submission guidelines.