September 26, 2018

Drumroll please: the Kirkus Prize nominees have just been announced


Award season is upon us! Last month, the National Book Foundation kept us on our toes as they meted out their National Book Award Longlist for all categories throughout one week at New Yorker, and the Man Booker Prize announced their shortlist just last week (a list many here at MobyLives felt compelled to analyze).

Photo via Janko Ferlič/Unsplash

 But while these more established prizes get the conversation going, it’s newer awards like the Kirkus Prize that always help in figuring out the trend in the awards circuit. For the Los Angeles Times, Michael Schaub writes of this year’s nominees in fiction, nonfiction, and young reader’s literature, highlighting which novelists and writers are gaining the attention of judges worldwide.

For fiction, Lauren Groff’s “Florida” and Nafissa Thompson-Spires‘ “Heads of the Colored People” were nominated for both the NBA and Kirkus. In nonfiction, Rebecca Solnit‘s “Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays)” and Sarah Smarsh‘s “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth” are vying for both the NBA and Kirkus Prize, as well. Haymarket Books and Bellevue Literary Press are the only two independent presses contending in the two adult categories this year.

Founded in 2014, Kirkus offers a hefty cash prize to the ultimate winner in each category (that goes for young readers too, which has two nominated writers for three separate sub-categories). The winners of this year’s Kirkus Prize will be announced at the Austin Book Festival on October 25.

So, without further ado, the list:


“Halsey Street” by Naima Coster (Little A)

“Florida” by Lauren Groff (Riverhead)

“Mourning” by Eduardo Halfon (Bellevue Literary Press)

“Severance” by Ling Ma (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

“Heads of the Colored People” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires (37 Ink/Atria)

“Tell the Machine Goodnight” by Katie Williams (Riverhead)


“The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America” by Timothy Snyder (Tim Duggan Books/Crown)

“Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America” by Beth Macy (Little, Brown)

“American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment” by Shane Bauer (The Penguin Press)

“Heavy: An American Memoir” by Kiese Laymon (Scribner)

“Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays)” by Rebecca Solnit (Haymarket)

“Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth” by Sarah Smarsh (Scribner)


Picture Books:

“Crown” by Derrick Barnes, illustrator Gordon C. James (Bolden/Agate)

“Dreamers” by Yuyi Morales (Neal Porter/Holiday House)

Middle Grade:

“Merci Suárez Changes Gears” by Meg Medina (Candlewick)

“Harbor Me” by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin)

Young Adult:

“The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen)

“Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt/Macmillan)

Alex Primiani is the associate director of publicity at Melville House.