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Tenorio is this year’s New American Voices Award winner

October 6, 2020   /   by Kate Lewis

Lysley Tenorio. Photo by Laura Bianchi

Lysley Tenorio’s novel “The Son of Good Fortune” is the winner of the 2020 Institute for Immigration Research New American Voices Award. Tenorio, born in the Philippines, lives in San Francisco and is a professor at Saint Mary’s College of California. Tenorio will accept the award at a virtual ceremony and reading hosted by Fall for the Book on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 6:30 p.m. via Crowdcast. Register for free here.

Tenorio’s debut novel explores the bond between mother and son as they try to forge a seemingly unremarkable existence of as undocumented immigrants in America. To escape the secrecy of his existence, Excel leaves his mother and embarks on a journey to Hello City to decide who he wants to become.

“As an American immigrant myself, the question of American-ness—both its limits and its possibilities—has been central to my work and to my life,” Tenorio said. “Fiction allows me to explore this idea in ways that draw upon my personal experience and transcend it, in the hopes that readers might recognize aspects of their own experience—and their own humanity—as well.”

This year’s award was judged by writers Porochista Khakpour, Susan Muaddi Daraj and Chika Unigwe. Unigwe described “The Son of Good Fortune” ascompulsively readable. With its cast of unforgettable characters and delightful prose, Tenorio has delivered a near-perfect novel."

Founded in 2018, the New American Voices Award was established by Fall for the Book and the Institute for Immigration Research to recognize recently published works that illuminate the complexity of the human experience as told by immigrants, whose work is historically underrepresented in writing and publishing. Tenorio will receive $5,000 for the top prize. Finalists Ishmael Beah and Vanessa Hua each will receive $1,000.

“So I’m especially honored that my novel, The Son of Good Fortune, is being recognized by the Institute for Immigration Research, an organization that is particularly vital in times like these,” said Tenorio. “I’m extremely grateful to receive the 2020 New American Voices Award, and I hope that my work will help contribute to the institute’s continuing mission.”

The Institute for Immigration Research is a multidisciplinary research institute at Mason with mission to produce valid, reliable and objective multidisciplinary research on immigrants and immigration to the United States and to disseminate this information.

Fall for the Book is Northern Virginia’s oldest and largest festival of literature and the arts. For more information and for a full schedule of events, visit fallforthebook.org.