Ursula K. Le Guin Prize

House of Rust

Khadija Abdalla Bajaber has won the inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction for her novel The House of Rust.

This is new prize given to a writer for a single work of imaginative fiction - fiction not based on reality. It includes but is not necessarily limited to fantasy, horror, and science fiction.

This award is intended to recognize those writers Ursula spoke of in her 2014 National Book Awards speech - realists of a larger reality, who can imagine real grounds for hope and see alternatives to how we live now. The first prize was awarded on October 21, 2022, which was Ursula's birthday. 

2022 Winner

The House of Rust

Khadija Abdalla Bajaber's debut is a magical realist coming-of-age tale told through the lens of the Swahili and diasporic Hadhrami culture in Mombasa, Kenya. When her father goes missing, Aisha takes to the sea on a magical boat made of a skeleton to rescue him. After she survives a final confrontation with Baba wa Papa, the father of all sharks, she hopes life will return to normal. But at home, things only grow stranger.

Richly descriptive and written with an imaginative hand and sharp eye for detail, The House of Rust is a memorable novel by a thrilling new voice.

After the Dragons

Dragons were fire and terror to the Western world, but in the East they brought life-giving rain. Now, no longer hailed as gods and struggling in the overheated pollution of Beijing, only the Eastern dragons survive. Interest in Beijing's dragons leads Kai and Eli, two people from different cultures and worlds, into an unlikely partnership to save the dragons. They must confront old ghosts and hard truths if there is any hope for themselves or the dragons they love.

Beautiful and challenging, focused on hope and care, this novel navigates the nuances of changing culture in a changing world.

Appleseed

In eighteenth-century Ohio, two brothers travel into the wooded frontier. As they remake the wilderness in their own image, they’ll be tested, fractured, and possibly healed.

Fifty years from now, climate change has ravaged the Earth. One company now owns all the world's resources. But one of the company's original founders returns to headquarters, intending to destroy what he helped build.

A thousand years from now, as North America is covered in ice, one sentient being sets out to follow a homing beacon across the continent.

Hugely ambitious in scope and theme, Appleseed is an unforgettable meditation.

Summer in the City of Roses

All her life, seventeen-year-old Iph has protected her sensitive younger brother, Orr. But this summer, their father decides it's time to toughen up Orr, sending him to a wilderness boot camp. Iph, feeling betrayed, goes to track down Orr. In the meantime, Orr, in the meantime, has escaped the camp. He’s fallen in with The Furies, an all-girl punk band, and moves into the coat closet of their ramshackle pink house.

Told through a lens of magical realism and steeped in myth, Summer in the City of Roses is a dazzling tale about the pain and beauty of growing up.

A Snake Falls to Earth

Nina is a Lipan girl in our world. She's always felt there was something more out there. She still believes in the old stories. Oli is a cottonmouth kid, from the land of spirits and monsters. Like all cottonmouths, he's been cast from home and now lives on the banks of the bottomless lake. Nina and Oli have no idea the other exists. But a catastrophic event on Earth, and a sickness that befalls Oli's best friend, will drive their worlds together in ways they haven't been in centuries. And there are some who will kill to keep them apart.

How High We Go in the Dark

In 2030, a grieving archeologist arrives in the Arctic Circle where researchers are studying long-buried secrets now revealed in melting permafrost, including the perfectly preserved remains of a girl who appears to have died of an ancient virus. Once unleashed, the Arctic plague will reshape life on Earth for generations to come.

For fans of Cloud Atlas and Station Eleven, a spellbinding and profoundly prescient debut that follows a cast of intricately linked characters over hundreds of years. It’s a daring and deeply heartfelt work of mind-bending imagination from a singular new voice.

The Employees

Funny and doom-drenched, The Employees chronicles the fate of the Six-Thousand Ship. The human and humanoid crew members complain about their daily tasks in a series of staff reports and memos. When the ship takes on several strange objects from the planet New Discovery, the crew becomes strangely and deeply attached to them, even as tensions boil toward mutiny, especially among the humanoids.

Olga Ravn's prose is chilling, crackling, exhilarating, and foreboding. The Employees probes into what makes us human, while delivering a hilariously stinging critique of life governed by the logic of productivity.

Elder Race

Lynesse is the lowly Fourth Daughter of the queen and always getting in the way. But a demon is terrorizing the land, and now she's an adult with responsibilities. Although she still gets in the way, she understands that the only way to save her people is to invoke the pact between her family and the Elder sorcerer who has inhabited the local tower for as long as her people have lived here. But… Elder Nyr isn't a sorcerer, and he is forbidden to help, and his knowledge of science tells him the threat cannot possibly be a demon.

The Past is Red

Tetley Abednego is the most beloved girl in Garbagetown, but she's the only one who knows it. She's the only one who knows a lot of things: that Garbagetown is the most wonderful place in the world, that it's full of hope, that you can love someone and 66% hate them all at the same time.

But Earth is a terrible mess, hope is a fragile thing, and a lot of people are very angry with her. Then Tetley discovers a new friend, a terrible secret, and more to her world than she ever expected.

After the Dragons

Dragons were fire and terror to the Western world, but in the East they brought life-giving rain. Now, no longer hailed as gods and struggling in the overheated pollution of Beijing, only the Eastern dragons survive. Interest in Beijing's dragons leads Kai and Eli, two people from different cultures and worlds, into an unlikely partnership to save the dragons. They must confront old ghosts and hard truths if there is any hope for themselves or the dragons they love.

Beautiful and challenging, focused on hope and care, this novel navigates the nuances of changing culture in a changing world.