National Book Foundation selects '5 Under 35'

Authors such as Phil Klay and Valeria Luiselli were selected by past National Book Award winners as rising stars in the literary world.

Phil Klay, author of 'Redeployment,' and Yelena Akhtiorskaya, author of 'Panic in a Suitcase,' were two of the authors selected as part of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 list.

Want a sneak peek at the future literary talent of America? 

The National Book Foundation has just announced its “5 Under 35,” a handful of authors chosen by past National Book Award winners as rising stars in the literary world.

This year’s honorees include Iraq War veteran Phil Klay whose collection of short stories, “Redeployment,” is set in Iraq and Afghanistan; NPR contributor Alex Gilvarry, whose novel “Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant” is narrated from inside a US prison cell; Yelena Akhtiorskaya, whose novel “Panic in a Suitcase” is an immigrant story about her family’s journey from Odessa to Brooklyn; Mexico City-born Valeria Luiselli, who writes of Mexico families in “Faces in the Crowd”; and Kirstin Valdez Quade, who writes about love and violence in her short story collection set in northern New Mexico, “Night at the Fiestas.” 

The authors were chosen by past National Book Award winners and finalists and will be formally awarded at a Nov. 7 ceremony in Brooklyn. Each receives $1,000 and joins an exclusive club including such notables as Tea Obreht, Dinaw Mengestu, and Karen Russell. 

Each author on the “5 Under 35” list was chosen by a specific former National Book Award honoree. The recognition is significant in that it bookmarks a handful of promising authors the Foundation believes will go on to be among America’s future literary luminaries.

Previous honorees Mengestu and Russell both went on to become MacArthur “genius” fellows, while Obreht won an Orange Prize. Other past awardees, like Claire Vaye Watkins went on to win the Story Prize, and Nam Le, the Dylan Thomas Prize.

“It means so much to me to have my book chosen by Andre Dubus III. I admire his work so deeply and the thought that he read my book is absolutely thrilling,” Quade told the UK’s Guardian. Out next March, the stories in “Night at the Fiestas” “were written over almost a decade”, she said. “Most of them are set in northern New Mexico, where my family is from and where my extended family still lives. It’s the one place I’ve lived that feels like home, and it’s a place that I find I return to again and again in my writing.”

The full list of awardees and their sponsors is as follows.

Yelena Akhtiorskaya, "Panic in a Suitcase" (Riverhead, July 2014), selected by Aleksandar Hemon, 2008 National Book Award Finalist for "The Lazarus Project"; Alex Gilvarry, "From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant" (Viking, January 2012), selected by Amy Bloom, 1993 National Book Award Finalist for "Come to Me"; Phil Klay, "Redeployment" (Penguin Press, March 2014), selected by Andrea Barrett, 1996 National Book Award Winner for "Ship Fever and Other Stories"; Valeria Luiselli, "Faces in the Crowd" (Coffee House Press, May 2014), selected by Karen Tei Yamashita, 2010 National Book Award Finalist for "I Hotel"; Kirstin Valdez Quade, "Night at the Fiestas" (W.W. Norton & Company, March 2015), selected by Andre Dubus III, 1999 National Book Award Finalist for "House of Sand and Fog."

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