Zain Khalid has won the Bard Fiction Prize for his debut novel, Brother Alive, Bard College announced in a news release.
Khalid’s book, published in July by Grove, follows three adopted brothers growing up in Staten Island with their father, an imam. The novel won the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award; a critic for Kirkus praised Khalid’s “admirably encyclopedist instinct” but said the book “gets lost in the details.”
In its citation, the prize committee said Khalid’s novel is “made of language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree,” and called it “a novel that knows all literature is about literature, and isn’t afraid to embrace it.”
In a statement, Khalid said he was “honored and grateful” to win the award.
“I’ve long admired the prize’s previous winners, luminaries, really, and am stunned to be joining their ranks,” he said.
The Bard Fiction Prize, established in 2001, is given annually to “a promising emerging writer who is an American citizen aged 39 years or younger at the time of application.” Previous winners include Nathan Englander, Karen Russell, Laura van den Berg, Karan Mahajan, and Carmen Maria Machado. The award comes with a $30,000 cash prize.
Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.