Kirstin Valdez Quade wins Center for Fiction’s 2021 First Novel Prize

Author Kirsten Valdez Quade and the cover of her book “The Five Wounds.”
Holly Andres

Brooklyn’s Center for Fiction on Tuesday, Dec. 6 congratulated Kirstin Valdez Quade, author of “The Five Wounds” (W. W. Norton & Company), on receiving the 2021 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.

The award was announced at The Center for Fiction’s Annual Awards Benefit and 200th Anniversary Celebration.

Last year’s winner, Raven Leilani, presented Quade with the award and a prize of $15,000, The Center of Fiction said.

It said “The Five Wounds” was selected by a panel of distinguished American writers — Alexander Chee, Susan Choi, Yaa Gyasi, Raven Leilani and Dinaw Mengestu.

The shortlist also included “The City of Good Death” by Priyanka Champaneri (Restless Books); “Swimming Back to Trout River” by Linda Rui Feng (Simon & Schuster); “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (HarperCollins/Harper); “Build Your House Around My Body” by Violet Kupersmith (Penguin Random House/Random House); “No One Is Talking About This” by Patricia Lockwood (Penguin Random House/Riverhead Books); and “Brood” by Jackie Polzin (Penguin Random House/Doubleday).

The Center for Fiction, on 15 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, said the shortlisted authors each received $1,000.

It said Kirstin Valdez Quade is the author of “Night at the Fiestas,” winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize.

She is the recipient of a “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation, the Rome Prize and the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award.

Originally from New Mexico, Valdez Quade now lives in New Jersey and teaches at Princeton University.

In “The Five Wounds”, the Center said Amadeo Padilla was “hoping for redemption through his portrayal of Jesus in the Good Friday procession of his small town in New Mexico when his 15-year-old daughter, Angel, shows up pregnant after fleeing her mother’s house.

“Five generations of the Padilla family converge during the baby’s first year, bringing to life their struggles to parent children they may not be equipped to save,” said The Center for Fiction, a literary nonprofit that brings diverse communities together to develop and share a passion for fiction.

Founded as the Mercantile Library of New York in Manhattan, the organization is now based in the heart of the Brooklyn cultural district, “with a 18,000 sq. ft. facility that offers New Yorkers an immersive cultural experience centered on reading and writing,” the Center said.

Throughout the year, it said it provides a vast array of public programming, reading groups and writing workshops.

The Center for Fiction said its First Novel Prize and Emerging Writer Fellowships “help build literary careers.”

It said its KidsRead/KidsWrite programs “inspire an early love of reading and writing in public school students with author-led events.”

In recent years, the organization’s programming has expanded to include storytelling in all its forms, integrating music, theater, dance, film, television and the visual arts into its exploration of the best of fiction throughout history and today.

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