Browse Winners

2012 Winner

Eleventh Annual Award
We the Animals (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
By Justin Torres

Three brothers grapple with their chaotic, destructive home life as they race toward adulthood. Their mother, a Caucasian woman, works the night shift at a brewery. Their father, who has a Puerto Rican background, does odd jobs. Surrounded by domestic battles and broken dreams, the brothers know that they want something different, something more fulfilling, but will any of them escape the whirlwind?

Christopher Isherwood of The New York Times described the novel as relating "an affecting story of love, loss and the irreversible trauma that a single event can bring to a family." In his Esquire review, author Benjamin Percy proclaimed, "Torres's sentences are gymnastic, leaping and twirling, but never fancy for the sake of fancy, always justified by the ferocity and heartbreak and hunger and slap-happy euphoria of these three boys."

Justin Torres grew up in upstate New York. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Glimmer Train, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is a recipient of the Rolón United States Artist Fellowship in Literature, and is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He has worked as a farmhand, a dog-walker, a creative writing teacher, and a bookseller.

Judges: David Gordon (author of The Serialist and winner of the 2011 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award), Tama Janowitz (best-selling author of Slaves of New York and others), and Maya Payne Smart (writer and chair of James River Writers)

Finalists: Peter Mountford for A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Alexi Zentner for Touch (W.W. Norton)

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