Alumna Hannah Lillith Assadi '16 Named Among National Book Foundation 5 Under 35

BY Zoe Contros Kearl, September 27, 2018

Sonora book coverWriting alumna Hannah Lillith Assadi '16 was named a 5 Under 35 Honoree by the National Book Foundation for her debut novel, Sonora.


The National Book Foundation announced its 2018 5 Under 35 honorees, a selection of debut fiction writers under the age of 35 whose work promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape. The honored authors are selected by previous National Book Award Winners, Finalists, and Longlisted authors, or writers previously recognized by the 5 Under 35 program. 5 Under 35 honorees are writers from around the world, under the age of 35, who have published their first and only book of fiction—either a short story collection or a novel—within the last five years. Assadi's book Sonora (Soho, 2017), is about two young women, Ahlam and Laura, who leave the Phoenix area and go to New York. The girls flee their pasts for New York City, but as their emotional bond heightens, the intensity of their lives becomes unbearable. In search of love, ecstasy, oblivion, and belonging, Ahlam and Laura’s drive to outrun the ghosts of home threatens to undo them altogether.


Assadi received her MFA in fiction from the Columbia University School of the Arts. She also attended Columbia University for her Bachelor's, where she received the Philolexian Prize for her poetry and fiction and graduated summa cum laude. She was raised in Arizona and now lives in Brooklyn. Her first novel Sonora also received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a finalist for the PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction.