The National Book Foundation’s
“5 Under 35” Fiction, 2011

5 Under 35 LogoThe National Book Foundation recognized the 2011 5 Under 35, five young fiction writers selected by National Book Award Winners and Finalists, on Monday, November 14, once again at powerHouse Arena in DUMBO, Brooklyn. This year’s celebration was hosted by filmmaker and author John Waters, with poet and National Book Award Finalist Patricia Smith as DJ.

Rebecca Keith, Program Manager at the National Book Foundation, who oversees the 5 Under 35 program, commented, “Host John Waters writes in his essay collection, Role Models, ‘Don’t let me ever hear you say, ‘I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.’ Fiction is the truth, fool!’ This could well be the mantra for 5 Under 35, a program which has honored some of the best young fiction writers in the game since its inception in 2006. We’re pleased to see this year’s list of authors expand into new territory, with John Corey Whaley, the first ever Young Adult novelist honored, and Shani Boianjiu, one of our youngest 5 under 35 authors ever, at 24, who is completing the manuscript for her first novel.”

5 Under 35 Honorees

John Waters' Opening Remarks (contains explicit language):

The 2011 5 Under 35 Honorees are:

Shani Boianjiu

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid
(Hogarth, an imprint of Crown Publishers, forthcoming in 2013)
Selected by Nicole Krauss, National Book Award Fiction Finalist for Great House, 2010

Alexis Washam of Hogarth Press read a statement by Krauss and Jin Auh of Wylie read for Boianjiu.

Video is not available.

Danielle Evans

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (Riverhead Books, 2010)
Selected by Robert Stone, Winner for Dog Soldiers, 1975, and Finalist for A Flag For Sunrise, 1982 and 1983, Outerbridge Reach, 1992, and Damascus Gate, 1998


Mary Beth Keane

The Walking People (Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009)
Selected by Julia Glass, Fiction Winner for Three Junes, 2002

Melinda Moustakis

Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories (The University of Georgia Press, 2011)
Selected by Jaimy Gordon, Fiction Winner for Lord of Misrule, 2010


John Corey Whaley

Where Things Come Back (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011)
Selected by Oscar Hijuelos, Fiction Finalist for The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, 1989

5 Under 35 Honorees

Shani BoianjiuShani Boianjiu was born in Jerusalem in 1987, from an Iraqi and Romanian background.  She was raised in a small town on the Lebanese border.  At the age of 18, she entered the Israeli Defense Forces and served for two years.  She is at work on her first novel, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid.
(Photo courtesy of Shani Boianjiu)

Danielle EvansDanielle Evans is the winner of the 2011 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. A graduate of Columbia University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, her stories have appeared in The Paris Review, A Public Space, The Best American Short Stories 2008, and The Best American Short Stories 2010. Her collection of stories, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, is her first book. She lives in Washington, D.C.
(Photo by Nina Subin)

Mary Beth KeaneMary Beth Keane graduated from Barnard College in 1999, and received an MFA from the University of Virginia in 2005.  She was a winner of the Chicago Tribune's Nelson Algren Prize, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. One of her stories was selected as a PEN/O. Henry Recommended Story for 2009, and her first novel, The Walking People, received Honorable Mention at the 2010 PEN/Hemingway Awards. She is currently working on her second novel, and lives in Pearl River, New York with her husband and two sons.
(Photo by Carina Romano)

Melinda MoustakisMelinda Moustakis was born in Fairbanks, Alaska and raised in Bakersfield, California. She received her MA from UC Davis and her PhD in English and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories, her first book, won the 2010 Flannery O'Connor Award in Short Fiction. Her stories have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Kenyon Review, Conjunctions, and elsewhere. She is currently a visiting professor at Pacific Lutheran University.
(Photo by Emily Stinson)

John Corey WhaleyJohn Corey Whaley is a former teacher from Springhill, Louisiana. Where Things Come Back is his first novel. He was named a Spring 2011 Flying Start Author by Publishers Weekly.  His novel was a Spring 2011 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and is currently a nominee for the American Library Association's Best Fiction for Young Adults 2012.  The ABC Children's Group also included Whaley on their New Voices for Teens Top Ten List this year.  He found an agent for Where Things Come Back through, being the first author to do so using this medium, and you can watch him on YouTube as WeBook’s #1 AgentInbox Success Story. For more information, visit his website,, or follow him @corey_whaley. (Photo by Ashley Bankston)

National Book Award Authors

Julia GlassJulia Glass is the author of Three Junes, winner of the 2002 National Book Award for Fiction; The Whole World Over; I See You Everywhere, winner of the 2009 Binghamton University John Gardner Book Award; and most recently The Widower’s Tale in 2010. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her short fiction has won several prizes, and her personal essays have been widely anthologized. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. (Photo by Dennis Cowley)

Jaimy GordonJaimy Gordon’s fourth novel, Lord of Misrule, won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2010, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award; it also won the Tony Ryan Award for the year’s best book about horse racing. Gordon’s previous novels include Bogeywoman, a Los Angeles Times Best Book for 2000, and She Drove Without Stopping, which brought her an Academy-Institute Award from the American Institute of Arts and Letters. She has been a Fellow of the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College. Among her other books are Shamp of the City-Solo and Circumspections from an Equestrian Statue. She has translated several works of Maria Beig from German, most recently Hermine, an Animal Life. Born in Baltimore, Gordon teaches at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo and in the Prague Summer Program for Writers. (Photo by Alan Ritch)

Oscar HijuelosOscar Hijuelos is the international bestselling author of eight novels, including The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, for which he became the first Latino to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and a memoir, Thoughts Without Cigarettes. He has also received the Rome Prize and prestigious grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. He lives in New York City.
(Photo by Dario Acosta)

Nicole KraussNicole Krauss is the author of Great House, which won the ABA Indies Choice Honor Award and the Anisfield-Wolf Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award and shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She is also the author of the international bestseller The History of Love, which was published by W. W. Norton in 2005. It won the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Ėtranger, was named the Editors’ #1 Choice in Literature and Fiction, and was short-listed for the Orange, Médicis, and Femina prizes. Her first novel, Man Walks into a Room, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Award for First Fiction and was selected as a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2002. In 2007, Krauss was selected as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists, and in 2010, she was included as one of The New Yorker’s 20 under 40 best writers. Her fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, and Best American Short Stories, and her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
(Photo by Joyce Ravid)

Robert StoneRobert Stone is the acclaimed author of seven novels: Dog Soldiers (winner of the National Book Award), A Hall of Mirrors, A Flag for Sunrise, Children of Light, Outerbridge Reach, Damascus Gate, and Bay of Souls. His short-story collection, Bear and His Daughter, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His memoir, Prime Green, was published in 2006. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Stone lives with his wife in New York City. His most recent book, a collection of short stories entitled Fun with Problems, was published in 2010. (Photo by Gigi Kaeser)

The 5 Under 35 Celebration’s Host

John Waters

John Waters is an American filmmaker, actor, writer, and visual artist best known for his cult films, including Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, and Cecil B. DeMented. He is most recently the author of Role Models and lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Photo by Greg Gorman).

The 5 Under 35 Celebration’s Featured DJ

Patricia SmithPatricia Smith is the author of six books of poetry, including Blood Dazzler, chronicling the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, and one of NPR's top five books of 2008; and Teahouse of the Almighty, a National Poetry Series selection. Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah will be released in spring of 2012. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, TriQuarterly, Tin House, and both Best American Poetry 2011 and Best American Essays 2011. She is a Pushcart Prize winner and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. She is a professor at the City University of New York/College of Staten Island, and is on the faculty of both Cave Canem and the MFA program of Sierra Nevada College. And she plays good music.
(Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

Our Video Interviewer, Emma Straub

Emma StraubEmma Straub is the author of the story collection Other People We Married, as well as the forthcoming novel Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures. She also works as a bookseller at Brooklyn's BookCourt. Follow her thoughts about books, baked goods, and trashy television @emmastraub, and at