Stephen Grosz's The Examined Life goes up against a Facebook thriller and Sex and the Citadel, a study of intimacy in the Arab world, on a varied list of nominees
• Gallery: the nominees in pictures
NoViolet Bulawayo's visceral, lyrically told story of displacement We Need New Names is pitted against 31 remarkable psychoanalytic case studies in The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz, and Gill Hornby's comedy with bite The Hive on the longlist of 11 debut titles vying for the 2013 Guardian first book award.
The first book award is unique among literary prizes in judging fiction against non-fiction, and is awarded for "excellence, promise and originality", said Lisa Allardice, the Guardian Review's editor and chair of the judges.
This year's list sees authors "grappling with very contemporary issues", Allardice said, describing Lottie Moggah's Kiss Me First– about computer games addict Leila, who agrees to pose as vivacious, bipolar Tess – as "a true thriller for the Facebook generation", and Donal Ryan's novel of multiple narrators The Spinning Heart as "a blistering account of a small Irish town in the aftermath of the financial crash".
The 2013 longlist for the £10,000 prize comprises five non-fiction titles, five novels and a collection of poems, which was the readers' choice. The Shipwrecked House by Claire Trévien, a collection layered through with the metaphor of the sea, is published by independent press Penned in the Margins, and was selected by readers following a month-long nomination process.
With Allardice, this year's judges are psychotherapist and writer Susie Orbach, novelists and critics Rachel Cusk and Philip Hensher, and Paul Mason– the former Newsnight economics editor, now culture and digital editor of Channel 4 News – as well as readers in Waterstones' bookshops nationwide.
"I'm really excited to see what our formidable panel of judges will make of this year's longlist," Allardice said.
The non-fiction contenders include Money: The Unauthorised Biography by Felix Martin – a "lively" approach, setting the record straight on what money is, where it comes from and how it works – and a study of bravery, The Society of Timid Souls by Polly Morland, which is "the perfect companion for our age of anxiety", Allardice said.
Shereen El Feki uses interviews, statistics, opinion polls and personal reminiscences in her study of the hidden sexual politics of the Arab world, Sex and the Citadel, and in 10 Billion, described by Allardice as a "brutally brief polemic on the impending twin catastrophes of inexorable population growth and climate change", scientist Stephen Emmott sets out his heartfelt warning about the potential consequences of unchecked human expansion.
"And then there are those with more universal themes," Allardice added. "Psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz's The Examined Life puts you right on the couch in a series of 'stories' based on real case histories. And Gill Hornby's romcom The Hive is a stingingly witty portrait of playground politics – among the mums – and female friendship (there are lots of good jokes – all too welcome in nearly 100 first book award submissions)."
Hannah Kent's historical novel Burial Rites completes the shortlist; dripping with atmosphere and bad weather, it is based on the true story of the last woman to be executed in Iceland.
The winner will be announced at a party at Tate Modern in November.