Two African novels have been longlisted for The Center for Fiction 2023 First Novel Prize. They are DK Nnuro’s What Napoleon Could Not Do and Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Chain-Gang All-Stars.

The Center for Fiction was founded in 1820 as the Mercantile Library of New York City. Today, it is the only nonprofit literary organization in the U.S. dedicated to celebrating fiction through book launches, readings, and annual awards.

The First Novel Prize began in 2006 to honor the year’s best debut fiction. The winner receives a $15,000 prize and the shortlisted authors receive $1,000 each.

This year’s longlist includes 25 debut novels selected from over 160 titles published in 2023. The longlist was determined by over 100 volunteer readers including writers, booksellers, libraries, and staff.

The two African novelists longlisted for the award are both Ghanaian-American and their debut novels provide a fresh glimpse into what it means to live in America today.

DK Nnuro’s novel What Napoleon Could Not Do is the story of a Ghanaian man trying to relocate to the US and achieve the American dream, labeled as “what Napoleon could not do”.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s speculative fiction title Chain-Gang All-Stars imagines a dystopian world where two women gladiators fight for their freedom in America’s corrupt private prison system.

The shortlisted titles will be chosen by four judges (TBA) this fall. The winner will be revealed on December 5 at The Center for Fiction Annual Awards Benefit.

Congrats to the longlisted writers!