The 2012 Barnes & Noble Discover Awards went to The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (Harper) for fiction and Wild by Cheryl Strayed (Knopf) for nonfiction. The awards were presented at a ceremony in New York on March 6.
Coplin, in accepting the hefty award statue (which comes with $10,000 in prize money), lifted it and quipped, "This will be fun to take home in an airplane." The Orchardist is about a reclusive man in the Pacific Northwest of the early 20th century and his efforts to save two young sisters. Coplin said that she's "been blown away by the support" for the book.
Robin Desser, editor of Wild, accepted the first place nonfiction award on behalf of Strayed. In her prepared comments, Strayed deferred to her fellow finalists, Katherine Boo and Kristen Iverson, and said, "There is no such thing as one winner when it comes to books" and called her fellow finalists "moving" and "inspiring."
Boo, whose Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Random) won the second place nonfiction award, said in accepting the $5,000 prize that it will be donated to childrens' education in Annawadi, the community that is the subject of her book. Iverson's Full Body Burden (Crown) took third place, and she stated that the Colorado community at the center of her book has new environmental and water quality standards thanks to the support her book has received.
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (Random) won second place for fiction, and Walker thanked her agent Eric Simonoff for "his patience" and, like her fellow finalists, thanked Barnes & Noble and its Discover Great New Writers program, which so avidly gets behind books from debut writers. Eowyn Ivey took the third place fiction award for The Snow Child (Reagan Arthur Books). A native of Alaska (where her novel takes place), Ivey thanked her husband and her two daughters, who had come with her to New York.
This year's judges were Lan Samantha Chang, Susan Cheever, Alan Cheuse, Karl Marlantes, Wendy McClure, and Touré.
Since 1990, Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers has selected well over 2,000 books by new writers to feaure in stores and online.