VSB's Damon Young Wins Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers Award for What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker

Illustration for article titled VSB's Damon Young Wins Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers Award for What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker
Photo: Courtesy of Damon Young
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What’s more exciting than any work of fiction? The news that one of our favorite essayists, colleagues and play cousins is being recognized for his brilliance! As reported by Publishers Weekly (and our work Slack), Damon Young’s debut book of essays, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker, was recently named the nonfiction winner of Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers award.


Young’s was among eight fiction and nonfiction titles “chosen by two panels of noted authors from among 52 titles picked by Barnes & Noble booksellers from a selection of more than 1,000 books,” reports PW. The panel of judges included authors Christopher Bollen, Janet Fitch, Matthew Goodman, Veronica Chambers, and Beth (Bich Minh) Nguyen, who chose The Golden Child by Claire Adam as the winning fiction title. Other fiction finalists included Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, and The Travelers by Regina Porter, while notable nonfiction titles included How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones, Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Diaz, and Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino.

Speaking exclusively with The Root (because, obvi), Young said:

“Man, just to be considered with Jaquira, Saeed, and Jia and their brilliant books is an honor itself. And to win this award from Barnes & fucking Noble—with all the hours I’ve spent in there browsing, reading, loitering, discovering, lying, plotting, procrastinating, and fantasizing about my book being on those shelves one day—is still surreal, and I just want to thank the Discover program, the judges, and all the people whose blood and sweat and grit gave breath to this book.”

Barnes & Noble announced the wins at a cocktail party held last Thursday at its flagship store in New York City. Young and Adam will both receive a cash prize and marketing support from the bookseller.

Congrats, Damon! Can we hold $50?

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?


kidelo *ask me about my Covid-19 vaccine!*

Congratulations! As a former B&N bookseller, I promise that the marketing alone is worth it. Then when you earn out that advance and the royalties start flowing? Cha-ching, my brother! You deserve it -- it’s a fine book!