Amazon and Penguin announced the winners of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award at a ceremony in Seattle Monday morning. This year, for the first time, two grand prizes were awarded: one for general fiction and one for best young adult novel, with each one receiving a $15,000 publishing contract from Penguin. The general fiction winner is Farishta by Patricia McArdle, which Riverhead will publish. The YA winner is Sign Language by Amy Ackley, which Viking Children’s Books will publish.
Jeff Belle, v-p, U.S. books for Amazon said “thousands” of writers participated in the contest, posting reviews and voting for the winners. “The results of this year’s vote were the closest we’ve ever had.”
McArdle, who lives in Arlington, Va., is a retired American diplomat whose postings have taken her around the world, including northern Afghanistan. Farishta concerns a female American diplomat who, transferred to a volatile, remote outpost in northern Afghanistan, provides aid to refugee women fleeing the violence.
Ackley, who lives in Brighton, Mich., is a mother of three whose career has included public administration to labor relations for top automakers. Sign Language was inspired by the loss of Ackley’s father and two close friends to cancer, and is about a 12-year-old girl dealing with her father’s cancer. It is the first time a YA novel was included in the contest.