Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

What’s Your Favorite First Book?

By Jane Ciabattari

Critical Mass readers will know we are now in our seventh year of “NBCC Reads.” This survey allows us to draw on the bookish expertise of our membership, along with former NBCC winners and finalists. (You can check out past entries in the series here.)

This spring, in recognition of the NBCC's new John Leonard award for best first book, our question is, What is your favorite first book?

Think of this as a prompt for a second year of the NBCC's new John Leonard award, voted on by NBCC members in the fall. (A reminder to NBCC members to watch for first books coming out this year for candidates to nominate in the fall.)

 Anthony Marra's “A Constellation of Vital Phenomona” was the inaugural winner. (“A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” also won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in fiction, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, as well as the inaugural Carla Furstenberg Cohen Fiction Award, among others.)

The other six John Leonard Award finalists:

Elliott Holt: “You Are One of Them,”Boris Kachka: “Hothouse, ”Leigh Newman: “Still Points North,” Jamie Quatro: “I Want to Show You More,” Ethan Rutherford: “The Peripatetic Coffin,” and 
Helene Wecker: “The Golem and the Jinni.”

We'll be celebrating Anthony Marra June 12 at the annual NBCC cocktail party at ZYZZYVA in San Francisco; he'll be involved in future NBCC events, so stay tuned. 

Send your choice of your favorite first book, along with your thoughts on your choice (from a few sentences to a critical essay), to Jane Ciabattari, NBCC Vice President/Online:  We'll post your responses on Critical Mass.

The deadline: May 30.