Now on its 19th year, the MGBFBA honors the best first book by an up and coming writer in the Philippines, alternatingly awarding works in Filipino and English, and judged by some of our foremost writers and critics.
This year’s MGBFBA focuses on first books in English that came out between 2017 and 2018. The cycle has seen a remarkable crop of works, out of which were selected eight books as finalists:  Field of Play and Other Fictions by Francis Paolo Quina, Keeping it Together  by Marichelle Roque-Lutz, Musical Chairs by Christine Lao, Of Tyrants and Martyrs by Manuel Lahoz, Seeker of Spirits by Jude Ortega, The Shoemaker’s Daughter by Sarah Lumba, The Quiet Ones by Glenn Diaz, and What Distance Tells Us by Johanna Marie Lim.
Two of this years’ finalists are published by Visprint (Field of Play and Other Fictions and The Shoemaker’s Daughter); two by the University of the Philippines Press (Of Tyrants and Martyrs and Seeker of Spirits); one by the Ateneo de Manila Press (The Quiet Ones);  and one by Bathalad (What Distance Tells Us). The other two are self-published (Keeping it Together and Musical Chairs). These eight shortlisted works encompass the genres of poetry, short story, novel, and creative non-fiction.
The winner of the 2019 MGBFBA will be announced during the awarding ceremony to be held on November 22, 2019, 2:30 to 4:00 pm, at the Plenary Hall of the new UP College of Fine Arts Building in the University of the Philippines Diliman. An open forum will be held where the authors (or their representatives) will talk about their work and the process and inspiration behind it. The winner of the award will be announced after the open forum.
The board of judges for this year’s MGBFBA is comprised of Rica Bolipata-Santos and Marne Kilates, with Charlson Ong as the head judge.
The MGBFBA starts off the three-part celebration of the annual UP Writers Night, and is followed by the launch of the UP ICW’s Likhaan: Journal of Contemporary Philippine Literature Vol. 13 and the UP Writers Night proper. The UP Writers Night 2019 is a free-admission event; everyone is invited to come.