The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing
For an outstanding debut literary work by a first-generation immigrant
Winner receives $10,000 and publication by Restless Books
To be awarded for fiction and nonfiction in alternating years
Submissions for the 2019 Prize in Nonfiction are open from September 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019
The winner of the 2018 Prize in Fiction is Priyanka A. Champaneri for her novel The City of Good Death. Read more here.
The ethos of the modern world is defined by immigrants. Their stories have always been an essential component of our cultural consciousness, from Isaac Bashevis Singer to Isabel Allende, from Milan Kundera to Maxine Hong Kingston. In novels, short stories, memoirs, and works of journalism, immigrants have shown us what resilience and dedication we’re capable of, and have expanded our sense of what it means to be global citizens. In these times of intense xenophobia, it is more important than ever that these boundary-crossing stories reach the broadest possible audience.
With that in mind, we are proud to present The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. We are looking for extraordinary unpublished submissions from emerging writers of sharp, culture-straddling writing that addresses identity in a global age. Each year, a distinguished panel of judges will select a winning manuscript to be published by Restless Books. We can’t wait to read and share what the new voices of the world have to say.
—Ilan Stavans, Publisher
Submissions guidelines and eligibility
The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing [hereafter referred to as “the Prize”] alternates yearly between accepting unpublished fiction and nonfiction submissions. Fiction submissions can take the form of a novel or a book-length collection of short stories. Nonfiction submissions can take the form of a memoir, a collection of essays, or a book-length work of narrative nonfiction. The submission should address some combination of identity, the meeting of cultures and communities, immigration and migration, and today’s globalized society.
Fiction manuscripts must be complete. Nonfiction submissions must consist of either a complete manuscript, or a sample of at least 25,000 words and a detailed proposal that includes a synopsis and an annotated table of contents. All submissions must be in English (translations welcome).
Candidates must be first-generation residents of their country. “First-generation” can refer either to people born in another country who relocated, or to residents of a country whose parents were born elsewhere.
Fiction candidates must not have previously published a book of fiction in English. Nonfiction candidates must not have previously published a book of nonfiction in English. We encourage applicants to look at the other titles Restless has published and previous contest winners to get a sense of our aesthetic.
We will accept only one submission per candidate per submission period, and submissions must be under the author’s real name, not under a pseudonym. Agented submissions are welcome.
Candidates may not submit the same manuscript for the Prize in subsequent years unless specifically invited by Restless.
Restless reserves the right to invite writers to submit for the Prize.
Restless reserves the right to consider any Prize submission for publication.
Submitted manuscripts may be simultaneously under consideration for publication by other publishing houses. Once a manuscript has been selected as the winner of the Prize, Restless will contact the author and ask that the manuscript be withdrawn from consideration elsewhere. A publishing contract between the winning author and Restless Books must be signed before the winner is announced.
* Please note that while Restless Books welcomes all submissions for the Prize, we do not accept unsolicited manuscripts for our publishing program.
The winner will receive a $10,000 advance and publication by Restless Books in print and digital editions. We expect to work closely with the winner and provide editorial guidance.
Candidates are asked to submit a CV and a one-page cover letter as the first pages of their manuscript. The cover letter should address the candidate’s background as a writer, experience as an immigrant, and inspiration for the submitted work.
Restless will accept only electronic submissions by way of our submissions manager. The manuscript should be a PDF or Word file (.doc and .docx), and the text should be double-spaced, in twelve-point font, and with numbered pages. Fiction manuscripts must be a minimum of 45,000 words. Nonfiction samples must be at least 25,000 words.
There is no fee to submit a manuscript for consideration.
Submissions for the 2019 Prize in Nonfiction will be accepted from September 1, 2018 until March 31, 2019.
Restless will accept open submissions in addition to soliciting nominations from authors and professionals in the field. The Restless editorial staff will review submissions and recommend a shortlist to the judges, who will select the finalists and winner.
The 2019 nonFiction Judges
Héctor Tobar is the Los Angeles born author of four books, including the novels The Tattooed Soldier and The Barbarian Nurseries. His non-fiction Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of Thirty-Three Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize: it was also a New York Times bestseller and adapted into the film The 33. The Barbarian Nurseries was a New York Times Notable Book and won the California Book Award Gold Medal for fiction. Tobar's fiction has also appeared in Zyzzyva and in the 2016 edition of Best American Short Stories. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Irvine, and has taught writing and journalism at Pomona College and the University of Oregon. As a journalist, he was a foreign correspondent with the Los Angeles Times in Buenos Aires and Mexico City, and an op-ed writer for the New York Times and a contributor to The New Yorker. He is the son of Guatemalan immigrants.
Terry Hong is a writer and arts consultant, specializing in books, theater, and film. She created and maintains Smithsonian BookDragon, a multiculti book review blog for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. She is currently an Advisor for 10x10: Educate Girls, Change the World, a global action campaign highlighting girls’ education; she served as the Literary Coordinator for the groundbreaking film, Girl Rising. She co-authored two books, Eastern Standard Time: A Guide to Asian Influence on American Culture from Astro Boy to Zen Buddhism and What Do I Read Next? Multicultural Literature.
Ilan Stavans is the Publisher of Restless Books and the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. His books include On Borrowed Words, Spanglish, Dictionary Days, The Disappearance, and A Critic’s Journey. He has edited The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, the three-volume set Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, among dozens of other volumes. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, Chile’s Presidential Medal, the International Latino Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award. Stavans’s work, translated into twenty languages, has been adapted to the stage and screen. A cofounder of the Great Books Summer Program at Amherst, Stanford, Chicago, Oxford, and Dublin, he is the host of the NPR podcast "In Contrast."
Frequently Asked Questions
I have published in English academic books or books not in the category the prize selects for this year. Am I still eligible to submit?
Yes, you are still eligible to submit. Eligible submitters may have published books in English outside of the category the prize selects during the current year. (For example, the published author of an academic book could submit a novel during a year the prize accepts fiction.)
I was born in my current country of residence and one of my parents is foreign-born, the other born here. Do I qualify as a first-generation immigrant for the purposes of this competition?
Unfortunately, no. Only foreign-born writers who relocated to their country of residence or residents whose parents were both born elsewhere qualify as first-generation immigrants for the purposes of the competition.
I have a book that doesn’t qualify for the prize but that I’d like to place with Restless Books. Does Restless have open submissions and can I send my proposal?
No, Restless does not accept unsolicited submissions outside of the Prize for New Immigrant Writing.
Can I submit a book outside the submissions period ?
No, but keep an eye out for the next submissions period in the fall.