5 Under 35 Celebration | National Book Foundation

Miami Book Fair is proud to partner with the National Book Foundation to present the 15th annual 5 Under 35 Ceremony to honor five fiction writers under the age of […]


5 Under 35 Celebration | National Book Foundation

Authors:Tommy Orange, Tayari Jones, Marlon James, Susan Choi, Justin Torres, Fatima Farheen Mirza, Raven Leilani, Naima Coster, K-Ming Chang


Miami Book Fair is proud to partner with the National Book Foundation to present the 15th annual 5 Under 35 Ceremony to honor five fiction writers under the age of 35: K-Ming Chang (Bestiary), Naima Coster (Halsey Street), Raven Leilani (Luster), Fatima Farheen Mirza (A Place for Us), and C Pam Zhang (How Much of These Hills Is Gold). Their selectors—2019 National Book Award Winner Susan Choi, 2019 National Book Award Finalist Marlon James, 2018 National Book Award Longlister Tayari Jones, 2018 National Book Award Longlister Tommy Orange, and 2012 5 Under 35 honoree Justin Torres—introduce the debut authors who read an excerpt of their work and participate in a live question-and-answer session with the audience.

Throughout their vivid debuts, the five authors honored this evening tackle family dynamics, identity, mythology, race, and the many meanings of discovery. For the first time in 5 Under 35 history, all of the honorees are women of color. The 2020 cohort has been longlisted by the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and the Booker Prize; and shortlisted for the Kirkus Prize for Fiction and the Lambda Literary Awards. Honorees’ writing has been published by the New York Times, The Cut, Granta, The Paris Review Daily, Kweli, The Yale Review, and more.

This program of the National Book Foundation is supported by the Amazon Literary Partnership.

Sponsored by

The 2019 5 Under 35 Honorees are:

K-Ming Chang, Bestiary
One World / Penguin Random House
Selected by Justin Torres, 2012 5 Under 35 Honoree

Naima Coster, Halsey Street
Little A / Amazon Publishing
Selected by Tayari Jones, 2018 National Book Award Longlist for Fiction

Raven Leilani, Luster
Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers
Selected by Susan Choi, 2019 National Book Award Winner for Fiction

Fatima Farheen Mirza, A Place for Us
SJP for Hogarth / Penguin Random House
Selected by Tommy Orange, 2018 National Book Award Longlist for Fiction

C Pam Zhang, How Much of These Hills Is Gold
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House
Selected by Marlon James, 2019 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction

Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange is a graduate of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. An enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, he was born and raised in Oakland, California. Tommy Orange’s novel There There (Vintage) follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism. There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable. Margaret Atwood called it “An astonishing literary debut.”

Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones is the author of four novels, most recently An American Marriage. Published in 2018, An American Marriage is an Oprah’s Book Club Selection and also appeared on Barack Obama’s summer reading list as well as his year-end roundup. The novel was awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize), Aspen Words Prize, and an NAACP Image Award. It has been published in two dozen countries. Jones, a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, United States Artist Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Her third novel, Silver Sparrow, was added to the NEA Big Read Library of classics in 2016. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is an Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University and the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University.

Marlon James

Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. His most recent novel, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, the first novel in James’s Dark Star trilogy, was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award. His previous novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, was the winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize, The American Book Award, and The Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize for fiction. He is also the author of the novels John Crow’s Devil and The Book of Night Women, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

Susan Choi

Susan Choi is the author of the novels My Education, American Woman, A Person of Interest, and The Foreign Student. Her work has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. With David Remnick, she co-edited Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker. Her novel Trust Exercise (Holt Paperbacks) follows two freshmen at a highly competitive performing arts high school. When David and Sarah, fall in love, their passion does not go unnoticed, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley. The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure and of their future adult lives, fails to penetrate this school’s walls—until it does. A shocking spiral of events catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down. What seems to have happened to David and Sarah and their friends is not entirely true—but not false, either. The final piece of the puzzle to falls into place until the book’s stunning coda. The New York Times noted that “This psychologically acute novel enlists your heart as well as your mind.”

Justin Torres

Justin Torres has published short fiction in The New YorkerHarper’s, Granta, Tin House, The Washington Post, Glimmer Train, Flaunt, and other publications, as well as nonfiction pieces in publications like The Guardian and The Advocate. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Justin’s novel We the Animals has been translated into fifteen languages and was adapted into a film. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for five Independent Spirit Awards. Justin was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and a Cullman Center Fellow at the New York Public Library. The National Book Foundation named him a 2012 5 Under 35 honoree. He was the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Rolón Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is an Assistant Professor of English at UCLA.

Fatima Farheen Mirza

Fatima Farheen Mirza was born in 1991 and raised in California. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship.

Raven Leilani

Raven Leilani’s work has been published in Granta, The Yale Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Conjunctions, The Cut, and New England Review, among other publications. Leilani received her MFA from NYU and was an Axinn Foundation Writer-in-Residence.

Naima Coster

Naima Coster is the author of two novels. Her debut, Halsey Street, was a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Fiction and longlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. It was recommended as a must-read by People, Essence, BitchMedia, The Root, Well-Read Black Girl, The Skimm, and the Brooklyn Public Library among others.

Naima’s forthcoming novel, What’s Mine and Yours, is the story of the integration of a public high school in a small Southern city, and the resulting chain of events that bonds two families together in unexpected and complicated ways over the course of their lives. It will be published by Grand Central Publishing in March 2021.

Naima’s stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Rumpus, Aster(ix), Kweli, The Paris Review Daily, The Cut, The Sunday Times, and elsewhere. She has taught writing to students in jail, youth programs, and universities. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

K-Ming Chang

K-Ming Chang was born in the year of the tiger. She is a Kundiman Fellow and a Lambda Literary Award finalist in poetry. Her debut novel Bestiary will be published by One World on September 29, 2020, and is longlisted for the Center For Fiction First Novel Prize. Her poems have been anthologized in Ink Knows No Borders, Best New Poets 2018, Bettering American Poetry Vol. 3, the 2019 Pushcart Prize Anthology, and elsewhere. Raised in California, she now lives in New York.

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