5 Under 35 2011

In 2006, the National Book Foundation established the 5 Under 35 prize to recognize young, debut fiction writers whose work promised to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape. 5 Under 35 has identified some of the most celebrated young writers working today. Honorees include Brit Bennett, Angela Flournoy, Phil Klay, Nam Le, Valeria Luiselli, C.E. Morgan, Téa Obreht, ZZ Packer, Karen Russell, Justin Torres, Claire Vaye Watkins, Tiphanie Yanique, and Charles Yu.

5 Under 35 Honorees are writers from around the world, under the age of 35, who have published their first and only book of fiction—either a short story collection or a novel—within the last five years. In addition to being recognized at an invite-only ceremony in November, the honorees are presented with a $1,000 prize. Championing young authors at the beginning of their careers is part of the Foundation’s efforts to celebrate books, promote inclusivity, and engage more readers. 

5 Under 35 Honorees are selected by authors previously recognized by the National Book Foundation—either by National Book Awards or 5 Under 35 itself. Selectors maintain confidentiality until the Honorees are announced in mid-September. As Honorees are selected at the discretion of the selection committee, publisher cannot nominate an honoree or submit a book for consideration.

Salvage the Bones

A wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.

A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch’s father is growing concerned. A hard drinker largely absent, he doesn’t show interest in much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn’t much to save. Lately, Esch can’t keep down what food she gets; she’s fifteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pit bull’s new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child’s play and short on parenting.

As the twelve days that make up the novel’s framework yield to a dramatic conclusion, the unforgettable family at the novel’s core—motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce—pulls itself up to face another day.