The winner of the Edinburgh International Book Festival's annual First Book Award was announced today

by Rebecca Raeburn
Communication Support

4 November 2019

Argentinian writer Selva Almada was announced as the winner of the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s 2019 First Book Award with her debut novel, The Wind That Lays Waste.

The novel, which was nominated for the Argentinian Book of the Year Award when published in 2012, has been translated by Chris Andrews and published by Charco Press in English for the first time this year.

The First Book Award celebrates the wealth of new fiction featured in the Edinburgh International Book Festival programme each year, shedding a light on exciting new voices and giving readers and visitors the chance to choose their favourite.

This year 46 debut novelists and international writers published in English for the first time were eligible for the award, including a selection of young adult fiction.

EIBF have described The Wind That Lays Waste as 'exquisitely crafted, providing a profound, poetic and tangible experience of the landscape. It is told with the cinematic precision of a static road movie, like a Paris, Texas of the south. The Wind That Lays Waste is a distinctive novel that marks the arrival in English of an author with undeniable talent.'

On the win, Selva Almada said:

“I am very pleased that my book has been chosen by the readers. The Wind that Lays Waste is the first novel I ever wrote and the one that opened doors for me to thousands of readers not just in my country, but also in a wide array of places such as Sweden, Brazil, France, Portugal, Germany, Holland, the US… and now, the UK... I am very grateful to the Edinburgh International Book Festival. I truly enjoyed my participation and my visit to the city last August. This award is an unexpected gift; the best sign for all my books to come in the UK. Many, many thanks.”

You can find out more about all the writers and books that were eligible for the award on EIBF's First Book Award page and look out for the 2020 nominees announced in June.

About the First Book Award

The 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 the readers, who champion new writing and who are responsible for making superstars out of debut novelists. This allows readers to play their part in identifying a future literary legend by reading the books, visiting to see the authors in events and, of course, by placing their vote.

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