Barnes & Noble Announces Finalists for the 27th Annual Discover Awards

Barnes & Noble announced the six finalists for its prestigious 2017 Discover Awards.

The Discover Great New Writers program, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015, recognizes great fiction and nonfiction books from authors at the start of their careers. Since its debut, the program has introduced readers to nearly 1,900 extraordinary literary talents, many of whom have gone on to become household names, including Matthew Desmond, Junot Díaz, Anthony Doerr, Zadie Smith, Cheryl Strayed, Colson Whitehead and many more.

The six winners of the Discover Great New Writers Awards will share a cash prize totaling $105,000 and will be announced on Wednesday, March 7, at a private awards ceremony in New York City. The top winners in each category, fiction and nonfiction, will receive a $30,000 prize and a full year of promotion from Barnes & Noble. Second-place finalists will receive $15,000 each, and third-place finalists $7,500 each.

The finalists for the 2017 Discover Great New Writers Awards are:


The End We Start From by Megan Hunter (Grove/Atlantic) – A haunting and poetic parable about change and renewal, chaos and survival.

The Leavers by Lisa Ko (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill) – The bonds between parents and children are tested in all directions in this timely and beautiful exploration of love and loyalty.

Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell (McSweeney’s) – A darkly comic and unforgettable story about a young woman trying to make sense of her place in the world.


The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty (Amistad Press/HarperCollins) – A culinary historian traces his family’s roots and the politics that surround the origins of Southern cuisine in this unique memoir.

Down City: A Daughter’s Story of Love, Memory, and Murder by Leah Carroll (Grand Central Publishing) – A brave and wrenching memoir of a broken family and a portrait of gritty, 1980s Providence, Rhode Island.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder (Norton, W.W. & Company) – An insightful and heartbreaking narrative that follows a growing community of itinerant workers: older Americans.

Books by the finalists can be purchased at any Barnes & Noble store, online at Barnes & or instantly downloaded on any NOOK® eReader or tablet.

The Judges

Two panels of distinguished judges selected the finalists and will also select the winners.

Serving as this year’s fiction judges are:

Lauren Groff is the author of four books, including Fates and Furies, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her fifth book, Florida, is forthcoming in June 2018. Her short fiction has won the Pushcart Prize and the PEN/O. Henry award, has been in journals including the New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Tin House, and has appeared five times in the Best American Short Stories anthology. In 2017, she was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists.

Tayari Jones is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, an NEA Fellowship and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship among other prizes and fellowships. An Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University, she is spending the 2017-18 academic year as the Shearing Fellow for Distinguished Writers at the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

David L. Ulin is the author or editor of 10 books, including Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and the Library of America’s Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, which won a California Book Award. A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, he spent 10 years as book editor and book critic of the Los Angeles Times, and is assistant professor of English at the University of Southern California.

This year’s nonfiction judges are:

Dana Goodyear is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of two collections of poetry, “Honey and Junk” and “The Oracle of Hollywood Boulevard,” both of which were published by W.W. Norton. Her food writing has twice been honored by the James Beard Foundation, and she is the author of Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters and the Making of a New American Food Culture, a 2013 Discover Great New Writers selection.

Darin Strauss is the bestselling author of the novels Chang & Eng (a 2000 Discover Great New Writers selection), The Real McCoyMore Than It Hurts You and the memoir Half a Life. His books have been named New York Times Notable Books, Entertainment Weekly Must-Read Books of the Year, Los Angeles TimesSan Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, and NPR Best Books of the Year, among others. He is a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU’s creative writing program and a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship among other honors and awards. His next novel, The Queen of Tuesday, is forthcoming.

Rob Sheffield is a columnist for Rolling Stone, where he has been writing about music, TV, and pop culture since 1997. He is bestselling author of five books, including Love Is A Mix Tape (A 2007 Discover Great New Writers selection), Talking To Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut, and Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke. His most recent books are On Bowie and Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World.

Books by the judges can be purchased at any Barnes & Noble store, online at Barnes & or instantly downloaded on any NOOK® eReader or tablet.

The Discover Awards

Since 1990, the Discover Great New Writers program has connected readers with incredible, unforgettable stories which they may have otherwise missed. In addition to helping customers find their next great read, the program has helped many emerging authors find their audience.

The Discover program’s selection committee is comprised of Barnes & Noble booksellers from across the company and around the country. They are voracious readers who meet weekly throughout the year to look for compelling voices, extraordinary writing and indelible stories from literary talents at the start of their careers.

Forty-two books were handpicked for the program in 2017 from the 1,000+ submissions from publishers of all sizes, and from these, the judges select the shortlist and the winners of the Discover Awards.

Past winners of the annual Discover Great New Writers Award include: Matthew Desmond for Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City and Abby Geni for The Lightkeepers (both 2016); Mia Alvar for In the Country: Stories and Jill Leovy for Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (both 2015); Evie Wyld for All the Birds, Singing (2014); Anthony Marra for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and Justin St. Germain for Son of a Gun (both 2013); Cheryl Strayed for Wild and Amanda Coplin for The Orchardist (both 2012); Joshua Ferris for Then We Came to the End (2007); Ben Fountain for Brief Encounters with Che Guevara (2006); Alison Smith for Name All the Animals (2004); Anthony Doerr for The Shell Collector (2002); Hampton Sides for Ghost Soldiers (2001); Elizabeth McCracken for The Giant’s House (1996); and Chang-rae Lee for Native Speaker (1995).

For more information on the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program, please visit or ask one of the knowledgeable booksellers at any of Barnes & Noble’s 632 stores nationwide.