Tom McNeal, whose first novel, Goodnight Nebraska, was published last year, is the first recipient of the $10,000 James A. Michener Memorial Prize.

Ann Godoff, president and publisher of the Random House trade group, noted that the prize is given by Random in memory of the bestselling novelist, who died in 1997. It is awarded to a writer who, like Michener, published a first book at the age of 40 or over; the prize is designed to help foster a writing career. It will be awarded annually for five years on Michener's birth date, February 3.