Goldberg Prize for Outstanding Debut Fiction


The Sensualist, by Daniel Torday, winner of the 2012 prize (Nouvella Books).

Daniel Torday is the 2013 winner of the Goldberg Prize for Outstanding Debut Fiction. He won for his novella, The Sensualist.

Set in Baltimore, The Sensualist tells the story of Samuel Gerson, a 17-year-old who is ready to be rid of his high school baseball team, his protective upbringing, and the tight-knit Jewish community in which he’s spent his whole life. When he befriends enigmatic Dmitri Zilber, a recent Russian Jewish immigrant who is obsessed with the works of Dostoevsky, Samuel’s world begins to shift.

Daniel Torday’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Esquire MagazineHarper Perennial’s Fifty-Two StoriesHarvard Review and The Kenyon Review. A collection of his short stories was recently named a finalist for the Bakeless Fiction Prize. He is the director of creative writing at Bryn Mawr College and an editor at The Kenyon Review. As per the parameters of the Goldberg Prize, The Sensualist is his first book.

Read an essay by Daniel Torday on being a young parent and a writer.


Established in 1999 and supported through a generous grant from the Samuel Goldberg & Sons Foundation, the Goldberg Prize for Outstanding Debut Fiction (originally the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers) is among the very first of its kind to highlight new works by contemporary writers exploring Jewish themes.

The prize spotlights promising new talent, and is awarded to an American fiction writer for a debut novel or story collection published in that calendar year.  Submissions must be made by the publisher.

The award includes a prize of $2,500, as well as a one-week residency at Ledig House International Writers Colony in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Previous winners include Nathan Englander, Simone Zelitch, Gary Shteyngart, Lara Vapnyar, Anya Ulinich, Peter Orner, Sharon Pomerantz, Irina Reyn, Joanna Smith Rakoff, and Ned Beauman.


For 2014: Interested publishers can submit books published within the current calendar year through October 7, 2013. Submit through the Jewish Book Council website.

Please note that this prize is now administered by the Jewish Book Council.  Please see the JBC’s website or  contact jbc [at] for more information about the prize.

As in previous years, applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Previous grantees of the Goldberg Prize may not reapply.

Applications must be submitted directly by publishers. We do not accept submissions from individual authors.

We do not consider any self-published or print-on-demand books (including but not limited to books created by iUniverse, AuthorHouse etc.).

Previous Grantees

The 2012 prize was awarded to Ned Beauman for Boxer, Beetle, a wild romp through the world of interwar British boxing as well as modern-day Nazi memorabilia hunters. The book, Beauman’s debut, was shortlisted for the 2010 Guardian First Book Award in his native UK. See more at

The 2011 prize was awarded to Sharon Pomerantz for Rich Boy.

The 2010 prize was awarded to Joanna Smith Rakoff for A Fortunate Age, which was a New York Times Editors’ Pick, a winner of the Elle Readers’ Prize, a selection of Barnes and Noble’s First Look Book Club, an IndieNext pick, and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. As a journalist and critic, she’s written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post Book World, the Boston Globe, Vogue, Time Out New York, O:The Oprah Magazine, and many other newspapers and magazines. Her poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, Western Humanities Review, Kenyon Review, and other journals. She has degrees from Columbia University, University College, London, and Oberlin College.

The 2009 prize was awarded to Irina Reyn for her 2008 book, What Happened to Anna K. (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster). Irina is the editor of Living on the Edge of the World: New Jersey Writers Take on the Garden State (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster). Her work has appeared in One Story, Post Road, Tin House, Los Angeles Times, Town & Country Travel, The Forward, Nextbook, Ballyhoo Stories, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Moscow Times. Irina was born in Moscow and currently divides her time between Pittsburgh, PA and Brooklyn, NY. She is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

The 2008 prize was awarded to Anya Ulinich for her debut novel Petropolis. Ulinich was also chosen by the National Book Award foundation as a “5 Under 35″ awardee. The book is about Sasha Goldberg, a biracial, Jewish, socially maladjusted “child of the intelligentsia” from the Siberian town Asbestos 2. When following her heart gets her into trouble at home, Sasha leaves Russia as a mail-order bride and, with the help of the Kupid’s Korner Agency, lands in suburban Arizona. Soon, she escapes her fiance and embarks on a misadventure-filled journey across America in search of her father.

For a complete list of past grantees and their books, click here.

For further information about this prize, please contact Paul Zakrzewski, program officer for literature and scholarship, at

Program Funder

The Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers is made possible through a generous endowment and annual support of the Samuel Goldberg & Sons Foundation, Inc.

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