A First: The National Book Foundation's '5 Under 35' Are All Women

For the first time in its eight year history, the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" list is composed entirely of female authors.

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For the first time in its eight year history, the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" list is composed entirely of female authors. Previous National Book Award winners and finalists have deemed Molly Antopol, NoViolet Bulawayo, Amanda Coplin, Daisy Hildyard, and Merritt Tierce to be some of the most promising young writers out there. The five will be formally awarded by the foundation this November in a ceremony hosted by Portlandia's Carrie Brownstein.

This honor, which nominates young, promising writers, brings even more good news for Zimbabwean-born Bulawayo, whose We Need New Names was shortlisted for this year's Booker Prize. Names follows a groups of children living in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe's turbulent dictatorship but is also, in Bulawayo's words, "a celebration of childhood." The New York Times called the novel "stunning" and the author "remarkably talented."

Meanwhile, NPR called Coplin's debut The Orchardist, released last year, "a stunning accomplishment, hypnotic in its storytelling power, by turns lyrical and gritty, and filled with marvels." In a review of Hildyard's Hunters in the Snow Lucian Robinson of The Guardian praised the work's "nimble prose" and called her first work "remarkable." Antopol's first short story collection and Tierce's first novel will be published next year.

Each author is selected by a previous winner or finalist of the National Book Award — this year Jesmyn Ward, Junot Díaz, Louise Erdrich, Kevin Powers, and Ben Fountain did the honors. Ward won the National Book Award in 2011 for her Hurricane Katrina-set Salvage the Bones, and Díaz, Powers and Fountain lost last year to Erdich's The Round House. 

In the last few years the '5 Under 35' list has been dominated by female authors. In 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 three, often four, of the honorees were women, including current (literary) household names like Karen Russell (2009), Téa Obreht (2010) and Danielle Evans (2011).

(Screenshot via The Hachette Book Group.)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.