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The first novels by recent Creative Writing Program alumni – both based on their masters’ theses – have been nominated for prestigious literary honors.

“The Tiger’s Wife,” by Téa Obreht, MFA ’09, is nominated for a National Book Award. Published by Random House in March, the novel about a young Serbian doctor uncovering her family’s mysteries has been a New York Times bestseller.

At 26, Obreht is the youngest of this year’s 20 nominees. National Book Award winners earn $10,000 each and will be announced Nov. 16.

She has also received Britain’s 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction.

“Touch” by Alexi Zentner, MFA ’09, has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, Canada’s oldest literary prize; winners receive $25,000 (Canadian) each and will be announced Nov. 15.

The novel, about a priest returning to his childhood home in British Columbia, was published in April by W.W. Norton and Knopf Canada. Zentner’s previous honors include a 2008 O. Henry Prize.

Both writers live in Ithaca.

— Daniel Aloi

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