What is the First Book Award?

Our First Book Award celebrates the wealth of new fiction featured in the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme each year.

Every debut novelist and every overseas writer whose words are published in English for the first time is included in the award, along with a selection of young adult fiction.

Unlike other literary prizes, the winner of the First Book Award is selected by you, the readers who champion new writing and who are responsible for making superstars out of debut novelists.

Many of the writers who participate in our Festival programme go on to forge international careers. Our First Book Award enables you to play your part in identifying a future literary legend by reading the books, coming to see the authors in events and, of course, by placing your vote.

Everyone who casts a vote is entered into a prize draw to win all the titles in the award.

Voting for the 2019 First Book Award has now closed. 

Eligible titles for the 2020 First Book Award will be revealed here in June – in the meantime, you can explore the 2019 authors and their books below.

The Burning

Laura Bates for The Burning

Rosie Loves Jack

Mel Darbon for Rosie Loves Jack

Slip of a Fish

Amy Arnold for Slip of a Fish

The Wind That Lays Waste

Selva Almada for The Wind That Lays Waste

An Orphan World

Giuseppe Caputo for An Orphan World

The Pact We Made

Layla AlAmmar for The Pact We Made

The Boy

Marcus Malte for The Boy

How We Disappeared

Jing-Jing Lee for How We Disappeared

My Name is Monster

Katie Hale for My Name is Monster

When All is Said

Anne Griffin for When All is Said


Jim Al-Khalili for Sunfall

A Small Silence

Jumoke Verissimo for A Small Silence

Jokes for the Gunmen

Mazen Maarouf for Jokes for the Gunmen

Island Song

Madeleine Bunting for Island Song

The Black Flamingo

Dean Atta for The Black Flamingo


Fernando Aramburu for Homeland

The Catholic School

Edoardo Albinati for The Catholic School

The Doll Factory

Elizabeth Macneal for The Doll Factory

Show Them a Good Time

Nicole Flattery for Show Them a Good Time

You Will Be Safe Here

Damian Barr for You Will Be Safe Here

All the Things We Never Said

Yasmin Rahman for All the Things We Never Said

The Storyteller

Pierre Jarawan for The Storyteller

A Superior Spectre

Angela Meyer for A Superior Spectre

The Six Loves of Billy Binns

Richard Lumsden for The Six Loves of Billy Binns

Last Ones Left Alive

Sarah Davis-Goff for Last Ones Left Alive

A Modern Family

Helga Flatland for A Modern Family

Golden Child

Claire Adam for Golden Child

The Sun on My Head

Geovani Martins for The Sun on My Head


Alan Trotter for Muscle

A Good Enough Mother

Bev Thomas for A Good Enough Mother

The Parisian

Isabella Hammad for The Parisian

The Old Drift

Namwali Serpell for The Old Drift

Black Car Burning

Helen Mort for Black Car Burning

My Father was a Man on Land and a Whale in the Water

Michelle Steinbeck for My Father was a Man on Land and a Whale in the Water

Animals Eat Each Other

Elle Nash for Animals Eat Each Other

Dune Song

Anissa M Bouziane for Dune Song

A Girl Returned

Donatella Di Pietrantonio for A Girl Returned

A Glass Eye

Miren Agur Meabe for A Glass Eye


Harkaitz Cano for Twist

A Matter of Interpretation

Elizabeth Mac Donald for A Matter of Interpretation

The Burning Land

George Alagiah for The Burning Land

The Travelers

Regina Porter for The Travelers