Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Award

The 2020 contest is now closed.

Fall for the Book and the Institute for Immigration Research have created an award to recognize recently published works that illuminate the complexity of the human experience as told by immigrants, whose work is historically underrepresented in writing and publishing.

The Contest

The prize will be juried by writers Porochista Khakpour, Susan Muaddi Darraj, and Chika Unigwe, who will choose three finalists and then award the prize to one. Finalists will be announced in summer 2020 and all three finalists and the judges will appear at the 2020 Fall for the Book festival, October 7-10 for the third annual presentation and to read from and discuss their work. The winning writer will receive $5,000 and the two finalists each will receive $1,000. 


  • Starting December 1, 2019, publishers can enter immigrant writers* who have published no more than three books.
  • Entries must be prose: literary fiction or creative nonfiction. Please no journalism, plays, anthologies, or poetry.
  • Eligible books must have been (or will be) published between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020.
  • Four bound copies of the book (galleys/ARCs are acceptable) must be postmarked April 10, 2020 and sent to Kate Lewis, 12025 New Dominion Pkwy. #404, Reston, VA 20290, along with a $20 entry fee. Checks can be made out to Fall for the Book, Inc.; entry fee may also be paid online here.  Or click the button below.
  • Or, if you are unable to send bound copies because you do not have access to them during this time of social distancing, we will now accept books digitally. Please email them to

*Writers should be immigrants to the U.S., living in the States. They can be first generation by either definition of the term (born elsewhere and immigrated to the U.S., or born in the states to parents who immigrated to the U.S.)

Questions? Contact Kara Oakleaf – 703.993.4039 or kara[@]

Past Winners

2018 – Hernán Díaz

2019 – Melissa Rivero

Meet the Judges

Chika Unigwe: Born and raised in Enugu, Nigeria, she holds degrees from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven Belgium and the University of Leiden, Holland. She is the author of four novels including Night Dancer and On Black Sisters Street , translated into many languages including Hebrew, Dutch, German and Spanish.  She has won awards for her writing, was the 2016 Bonderman Assistant Professor of the Practice at Brown University, Providence, RI, and is currently a visiting professor of creative writing at Emory University, Atlanta, GA. She was a 2016 Man Booker International judge. Her latest book is a collection of short stories, Better Never than Late.

Susan Muaddi Darraj:  Her short story collection, A Curious Land: Stories from Home, was named the winner of the AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, judged by Jaime Manrique.   It also won the 2016 Arab American Book Award, a 2016 American Book Award, and was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. Her previous short story collection, The Inheritance of Exile, was published in 2007 by University of Notre Dame Press. In 2018, she was named a Ford Fellow by USA Artists. In 2019, she launched the viral #TweetYourThobe social media campaign to promote Palestinian culture. Later that year, she was named winner of the Rose Nader Award, by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), an award given by the Nader family to a person who “demonstrates an unwavering dedication and commitment to values of equality and justice.” In January 2020, Capstone Books launched her debut children’s chapter book series, Farah Rocks, about a smart, brave Palestinian American girl named Farah Hajjar.

Porochista Khakpour: Born in Tehran in 1978, she was raised in the Greater Los Angeles area. Her debut novel Sons and Other Flammable Objects was a New York Times “Editor’s Choice,” Chicago Tribune “Fall’s Best,” and 2007 California Book Award winner. It also made the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing shortlist, the Dylan Thomas Prize long list, the Believer Book Award longlist, and many others. Her second novel, The Last Illusion was a Kirkus Best Book of 2014, a Buzzfeed Best Fiction Book of 2014, an NPR Best Book of 2014, one of Buzzfeed’s 28 Best Books By Women in 2014, and many others. In 2014, Khakpour was one of Dazed’s  “Top 10 American Writers You Need to Read This Year,” one of Buzzfeed’s 32 Essential Asian-American Writers You Need to Be Reading, a Buzzfeed Community/OpenRoadMedia “10 Amazing Female Novelists Under 50,” and one of Entropy’s “Literary Advocates” in 2014 and 2016. Her other writing (essays, features, reviews, cover stories, and columns) have appeared in or are forthcoming in Harper’s, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily BeastThe Village Voice, The Chicago ReaderBookforum, Al Jazeera America, Vice, GQ, The Paris Review DailyElleSpin, Slate, Salon, Poets & Writers, The Rumpus,  and many other magazines and newspapers around the world. Her first memoir SICK was published by the Harper Perennial imprint of HarperCollins (June, 5 2018): “a memoir of chronic illness, misdiagnosis, addiction, and the myth of full recovery, chronicling the long, arduous discovery of her late-stage Lyme Disease.” In 2020, the Vintage imprint of Knopf Doubleday will publish her first collection of essays, Brown Album; in 2022, the Pantheon imprint of Knopf Doubleday will publish her third novel Tehrangeles.

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