Announcing the Finalists for the John Leonard Award for Best First Book

by Gregg Barrios | Dec-10-2018

Big news: the NBCC membership has spoken, and the 2018 John Leonard Prize finalists have been chosen. 

Here’s this year’s superb list:

FRIDAY BLACK by Nana Kwami Adjei-Brenyah (Mariner)

A LUCKY MAN by Jamel Brinkley (Graywolf Press)

THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú (Riverhead)

ASYMMETRY: A NOVEL by Lisa Halliday (Simon and Schuster) 

THE INCENDIARIES by R.O. Kwon (Riverhead)

THERE THERE by Tommy Orange (Knopf)

EDUCATED: A Memoir by Tara Westover (Random House)

Nominations for the Leonard Prize, for a first book in any genre, are open to any regular voting NBCC member; the finalists are those titles with the most nominations. A panel of member-volunteers will read the finalists and select the winner, to be announced in January. The John Leonard Prize will be presented at the NBCC Awards Ceremony at The New School in New York on March 14, 2019.


Gregg Barrios is a playwright, poet, and journalist. He is a 2013 USC Annenberg Getty Fellow, and was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters. He was the 2015 Fall Visiting Writer at Our Lady of the Lake University. His work has appeared in Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Texas Observer, Texas Monthly, Film Quarterly, San Francisco Chronicle, and Andy Warhol’s Interview. He is a former book editor of the San Antonio Express-News. He has received a CTG-Mark Taper Fellowship, a Ford Foundation Grant, and a 2013 Artist Foundation Grant for his theater work



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