Sindya Bhanoo, Daphne Palasi Andreades and Aamina Ahmad's photos and book covers.

Debut Writers Dominate Immigrant Writing Award Shortlist

Sindya Bhanoo’s Seeking Fortune Elsewhere, Daphne Palasi Andreades’s Brown Girls, and Aamina Ahmad’s The Return of Faraz Ali have been named finalists for the Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Award. Celebrating its 5th anniversary, this post-publication award recognizes recently published works that illuminate the complexity of human experience as told by immigrants, whose work is historically underrepresented in writing and publishing. This year’s book prize was judged by Patricia Engel, Huan Hsu, and Christopher Castellani. Engel won the 2021 New American Voices Award, and joined the ranks of previous winners Hernan Diaz, Melissa Rivero, and Lysley Tenorio.

“I am so pleased that now, in its fifth year, the Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Award, has attracted such a number and range of talented authors,” said Jim Witte, director of the Institute for Immigration Research, which sponsors the award. “The Institute’s mission is to highlight and humanize the immigrant experience and this is exactly what this year’s three finalists have accomplished.”

The winner will be announced this fall, and all three finalists will join the judges for an award ceremony and reading to discuss their work.  The event will be hosted by Fall for the Book on Thursday, October 13 at 7:30 p.m. at George Mason University’s Fairfax, VA Campus.

Praise from the Judges

Sindya Bhanoo & book cover

Judge Christopher Castellini praises Bhanoo’s fiction collection saying, “The stories in Sindya Bhanoo’s Seeking Fortune Elsewhere are both fierce and tender, suffused with longing but also unsparing in their exploration of the dynamics among family members, loved ones, and cultures.  Bhanoo is an immensely talented writer who packs deep emotional punches into stories told economically and with elegant restraint.”

Sindya Bhannoo’s fiction has appeared in Granta, New England Review, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. A longtime newspaper reporter, she has worked for The New York Times and The Washington Post. She is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers. She lives in Corvallis, Oregon and teaches at Oregon State University.

Judge Patricia Engel says this about Daphne Palasi Andreades’ debut novel: “With Brown Girls,  . . . Andreades offers an electric rendering of urban girls becoming women, their loyalties and fissures amid the wild and dislocating terrain of contemporary diaspora. The result is a striking and wholly original gem of a novel that you won’t soon forget.” 

Daphne Palasi Andreades is a graduate of CUNY Baruch College and Columbia University’s MFA Fiction program, where she was awarded a Henfield Prize and a Creative Writing Teaching Fellowship. She is the recipient of a 2021 O. Henry Prize, and scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing, where she won the Voices of Color Prize, and other honors. Her fiction often explores diaspora, immigration, and the far-reaching effects of colonialism and imperialism. She is at work on several projects, including her second novel, short stories, and a few multidisciplinary/multimedia works. She lives in New York City.

Aamina Ahmad & book cover

Judge Huan Hsu describes Aamina Ahmad’s debut novel, saying: “Set against the backdrop of Pakistan’s tumultuous political history, The Return of Faraz Ali is an engrossing, beautifully written saga of identity, loyalty, class, and aspiration, all wrapped in a page-turning crime thriller.  Aamina Ahmad is a major talent.”

A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Aamina Ahmad has received a Stegner Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award. Her short fiction has appeared in One Story, The Southern Review, Ecotone, and elsewhere; she is also the author of a play, The Dishonored. She lives in Berkeley, California.

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