The New American Voices Award

Fall for the Book 2019 logo

The Second Annual New American Voices Award was presented to Melissa Rivero, author of The Affairs of the Falcóns. Congratulations to Melissa and to our finalists Eugenia Kim and Angie Kim! 

Authors and Judges Winner, Melissa Rivero


Judges and all three finalists appeared at the 2019 Fall for the Book festival, October 10-12, 2019 for the second annual presentation and to read from and discuss their work. The winning writer received $5,000 and the two finalists each received $1,000. 

Fall for the Book and the Institute for Immigration Research created the New American Voices Award to recognize a recently published book that illuminates the complexity of human experience as told by immigrants, whose work is historically underrepresented in writing and publishing.


2019 Institute for Immigration Research 

New American Voices Award Finalists

Fall for the Book 2019 finalists

Melissa Rivero was born in Lima, Peru, and raised in Brooklyn. Undocumented for most of her childhood, Rivero became a U.S. citizen in her early twenties. Her writing has taken her to the Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Norman Mailer Writers Colony, and the VONA/Voices Workshops. In 2015, she was an Emerging Writers Fellow at the Center for Fiction in New York City. Rivero is a graduate of NYU and Brooklyn Law School, and she currently works on the legal team of a start-up. She still lives in Brooklyn with her husband, their two sons, and their rescue dog.

Eugenia Kim’s debut novel, The Calligrapher’s Daughter, won the 2009 Borders Original Voices Award, was shortlisted for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was a critics’ pick by the Washington Post. Her stories have appeared in Asia Literary Review, Washington City Paper, Raven Chronicles, and elsewhere. She teaches in Fairfield University’s MFA creative writing program and lives in Washington, D.C.




Angie Kim moved as a preteen from Seoul, South Korea, to the suburbs of Baltimore. She attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, then practiced as a trial lawyer at Williams & Connolly. Her stories have won the Glamour Essay Context and the Wabash Prize in Fiction, and have appeared in numerous publications, including Vogue, The New York Times, Salon, Slate, The Southern Review, Sycamore Review, The Asian American Literary Review, and PANK. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband and three sons.

Click here to learn more about this year's finalists and here to learn more about the winner, Melissa Rivero.


2019 Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Award Judges

reyna grande

Reyna Grande

Author of the bestselling memoir,
The Distance Between Us, where she writes about her life before and after coming from Mexico to the US as an undocumented immigrant.

alia malek

Alia Malek

Journalist and former civil rights lawyer. She was born in Baltimore to Syrian immigrant parents and has written several books including The Home that Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria.

ec osondu

E.C. Osondu

Originally from Nigeria, he is the author of the collection of stories Voice of America and the novel This House is Not For Sale. 



In October 2018, the first annual Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Award was presented to Hernán Díaz, author of In the Distance, at the annual Fall for the Book festival. Fall for the Book, Northern Virginia’s oldest literary festival, celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018.

NAV award winner

Eligible books must have been published between January 2017 and September 2018. Twenty-four books were submitted as entries from a range of publishers, including large publishers, including Penguin, Random House, and HarperCollins, as well as university presses and small presses, including Graywolf and Sarabande.

2018 Institute for Immigration Research 

New American Voices Award Finalists

NAV Finalists 

Renee Macalino Rutledge was born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area from the age of four. A long-time local journalist, her articles and essays have appeared in ColorLines, Filipinas Magazine, Oakland and Alameda Magazine, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Literary Hub, Mutha Magazine, Ford City Anthology, and others. The Hour of Daydreams, finalist for the Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Award and winner of the Foreword INDIES gold award in the multicultural category, is her debut novel. She lives in Alameda, California, with her husband and two daughters.

Elena Georgiou is the author of the short-story collection The Immigrant’s Refrigerator(GenPop Books), and the poetry collections Rhapsody of the Naked Immigrants (Harbor Mountain Press) and mercy mercy me (University of Wisconsin), which won a Lambda Literary Award and was a finalist for the Publishing Triangle Award. She is also co-editor (with Michael Lassell) of the poetry anthology, The World In Us (St. Martin’s Press). Georgiou has won an Astraea Emerging Writers Award, a New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship, and was a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work appears in journals such as BOMB, Cream City Review, Gargoyle, Spoon River Review, and Denver Quarterly. She is an editor at Tarpaulin Sky Press and the Director of the MFA in Creative Writing program at Goddard College. Georgiou is an English-Cypriot originally from London, where she spent the first twenty-seven years of her life.  Since then, she has lived in the US — first in New York, now in Vermont. Website:

Hernán Díaz is the author of Borges, Between History and Eternity (Bloomsbury 2012), managing editor of RHM, and associate director of the Hispanic Institute at Columbia University. He lives in New York.

2018 Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Award Judges

Helon Habila

Helon Habila

Nigerian novelist and Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Mason

Madeleine Thien

Madeleine Thien

Canadian writer

Maaza Mengiste

Maaza Mengiste

Ethiopian-American writer and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Princeton University