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Five Young Writers Chosen as Finalists for The New York Public Library’s 2011 Young Lions Fiction Award


 Winner to be awarded $10,000 prize at May 9 ceremony Hosted by Ethan Hawke

March 29, 2011 (New York, NY)- The New York Public Library has announced the finalists for the eleventh annual Young Lions Fiction Award. The award honors the works of young authors carving deep first impressions in the literary world. The winning writer will be awarded a $10,000 prize on May 9, 2011 at a ceremony hosted by actor Ethan Hawke held in the Celeste Bartos Forum of the Stephen A. SchwarzmanBuilding at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.

The finalists for 2011 Young Lions Fiction Award are:

Citrus County by John Brandon (McSweeney’s)

Vida by Patricia Engel (Grove Press)

The Instructions by Adam Levin (McSweeney’s)

Death Is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca (W.W. Norton & Company)

Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne
(Harper Perennial)

 The Young Lions Fiction Award is given annually to an American writer age 35 or younger for either a novel or collection of short stories.  Each year five young fiction writers are selected as finalists by a reading committee of Young Lions members, writers, editors, and librarians. A panel of award judges, including Maile Chapman, Andrew Sean Greer, and Kelly Link will select the winner of the $10,000 prize. See below for more information about the finalists.

Winners from previous years include: Wells Tower, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned; Salvatore Scibona, The End; Ron Currie, Jr., God is Dead; Olga Grushin, The Dream Life of Sukhanov; Uzodinma Iweala, Beasts of No Nation; Monique Truong, Book of Salt; Anthony Doerr, The Shell Collector; Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated; Colson Whitehead, John Henry Days; and Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves.

About the Young Lions
The Young Lions is a membership group for New Yorkers in their 20s and 30s who are committed to supporting the work of the Library. Each season, members enjoy exclusive events that feature young writers and leaders in the arts, politics, business, law, and the media.  Through presenting dynamic events and contributing to the General Book Fund, the Young Lions are integral to the life of the Library and its future. Information about the Young Lions group, including events and forums, is available online at or phone 212-930-0885.

About The New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award
The New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award is a $10,000 prize awarded each spring to a writer age 35 or younger for a novel or a collection of short stories. Established in 2001, this annual award recognizes the work of young authors and celebrates their accomplishments publicly, making a difference in their lives as they continue to build their careers. The Young Lions Fiction Award was founded by Ethan Hawke, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, Rick Moody, and Hannah McFarland. The Award is made possible by an endowment created with generous gifts from Russell Abrams, Nina Collins, Hannah and Gavin McFarland, Ethan Hawke, Stephan Loewentheil, Rick Moody, Andrea Olshan and Jennifer Rudolph Walsh.


Contact: Jennifer Lam 212.592.7708 or

2011 Young Lions Fiction Award Finalists

Citrus County by John Brandon

Citrus Countyis the story of teenage anti-hero Toby living in rural Florida as he embarks on adolescent misadventures and one terrible “prank.” In The New York Times, Daniel Handler praises “with Citrus County John Brandon joins the ranks of writers like Denis Johnson, Joy Williams, Mary Robison and Tom Drury, writers whose wild flights feel more likely than a heap of what we’ve come to expect from literature, by calmly reminding us that the world is far more startling than most fiction is. He subverts the expectations of an adolescent novel by staying true to the wild incongruities of adolescence, and subverts the expectations of a crime novel by giving us people who are more than criminals and victims. The result is a great story in great prose, a story that keeps you turning pages even as you want to slow to savor them, full of characters who are real because they are so unlikely."

John Brandon was raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida. During the writing of this book he worked at a Frito-Lay warehouse and a Sysco warehouse. During the revising he was the John & Renee Grisham Fellow in Creative Writing at University of Mississippi. His favorite recreational activity is watching college football. His first book was Arkansas, a novel.

Vida by Patricia Engel

Vida follows a single narrator, Sabina, as she navigates her shifting identity as a daughter of the Colombian diaspora and struggles to find her place within and beyond the net of her strong, protective, but embattled family. 

In “Lucho,” Sabina’s family—already “foreigners in a town of blancos”—is shunned by the community when a relative commits an unspeakable act of violence, but she is in turn befriended by the town bad boy who has a secret of his own; in “Desaliento,” Sabina surrounds herself with other young drifters who spend their time looking for love and then fleeing from it—until reality catches up with one of them; and in “Vida,” the urgency of Sabina’s self-imposed exile in Miami fades when she meets an enigmatic Colombian woman with a tragic past.

Patricia Engel was born to Colombian parents and raised in New Jersey. She has a degree in French and art history from New YorkUniversity, and an MFA from FloridaInternationalUniversity. Her debut novel, Vida, was selected as a New York Times Notable, a NPR Best Book Debut, was selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Program, and received the Florida Book Awards Silver Medal for General Fiction. She is thirty-three years old and lives and teaches in Miami, Florida.

The Instructions by Adam Levin

The Instructions is the story of Gurion Maccabee, age ten: a lover, a fighter, a scholar, and a truly spectacular talker. Ejected from three Jewish day schools for acts of violence and messianic tendencies, Gurion ends up in the Cage, a special lockdown program for the most hopeless cases of Aptakisic Junior High. Separated from his scholarly followers, Gurion becomes a leader of a very different sort, with righteous aims building to a revolution of troubling intensity. The Instructions is an absolutely singular work of fiction by an important new talent. Combining the crackling voice of Philip Roth with the encyclopedic mind of David Foster Wallace, Adam Levin has shaped a world driven equally by moral fervor and slapstick comedy—a novel that is muscular and rollicking, troubling and empathetic, monumental, breakneck, romantic, and unforgettable.

Adam Levin’s stories have appeared in Tin House, McSweeney’s, and Esquire. He was the winner of the 2003 Tin House/Summer Literary Seminars Fiction Contest and the 2004 Joyce Carol Oates Fiction Prize, and holds an M.A. in Clinical Social Work from the University of Chicago and an MFA in Creative Writing from SyracuseUniversity. He lives in Chicago, where he teaches writing at ColumbiaCollege and The School of the Art Institute.

Death Is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca

Death is Not an Option is bold, dazzling debut collection about girls and women in a world where sexuality and self-delusion collide. In these stories, a teacher obsesses over a student who comes to class with scratch marks on his face; a Catholic girl graduating high school finds a warped kind of redemption in her school’s contrived class rituals; and a woman looking to rent a house is sucked into a strangely inappropriate correspondence with one of the landlords. These are just a few of the powerful plotlines in Suzanne Rivecca’s gorgeously wrought collection. From a college student who adopts a false hippie persona to find love, to a young memoirist who bumps up against a sexually obsessed fan, the characters in these fiercely original tales grapple with what it means to be honest with themselves and the world.

Suzanne Rivecca’s fiction has appeared in Best American Voices, and she has received the Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at StanfordUniversity, she lives in San Francisco and has worked in the city’s homeless-services sector for the past several years.

Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne

"Sometimes you do not truly observe something until you study it in reverse," writes Karim Issar upon arrival to New York City from Qatar in 1999. Fluent in numbers, logic, and business jargon yet often baffled by human connection, the young financial wizard soon creates a computer program named Kapitoil that predicts oil futures and reaps record profits for his company. At first an introspective loner adrift in New York's social scenes, he anchors himself to his legendary boss Derek Schrub and Rebecca, a sensitive, disillusioned colleague. Her influence, and his father's disapproval of Karim's Americanization, cause him to question the moral implications of Kapitoil, moving him toward a decision that will determine his future, his firm's, and to whom—and where—his loyalties lie.

Teddy Wayne is the author of the novel Kapitoil (Harper Perennial), which was named one of Booklist's Top 10 First Novels of 2010, The Huffington Post's 10 Best Books of the Year, and the Kansas City Star's Top 100 Books of the Year. He is a graduate of Harvard and WashingtonUniversity in St. Louis, where he taught fiction and creative nonfiction writing. The recipient of a 2010 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Time, Esquire, McSweeney's, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in New York.