On Thursday, October 23rd, the 2014 Kirkus Prize finalists, judges, Kirkus Reviews staff and their guests gathered at the home of Lynn and Tom Meredith, the penthouse of the Four Seasons Residences in Austin, Texas, to learn which of the Prize’s finalists would become the three winners of the Prize (and each of them the recipient of $50,000). The Prize’s categories encompass fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature. 

Congratulations to the winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature, Aviary Wonders Inc.: Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth! Published by Clarion, Aviary Wonders Inc. is Samworth’s debut book. She has studied and taught painting at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art. ModeKate samworth led on mail order catalogues of the past and present, Aviary Wonders Inc. presents solid informational content and a thoughtful environmental warning—all leavened with snarky humor—in stunning visual spreads. Bird species are going extinct at a great rate, but why worry? With this splendid catalogue of customized beaks, wings and other bird parts, readers can assemble glorious avian creations of their very own. To the right is Kate Samworth after learning that her picture book Aviary Wonders, Inc. is the winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature.

Samworth tears up holding her trophy as senior Indie editor Karen Schechner and editor in chief Claiborne Smith look on.  

               Kate Samworth 2

Judges’ statement: “Aviary Wonders Inc. is a picture book that widens the definition of the genre. While truly a picture book, it was created for readers aged 10 and up with well-developed sensibilities and senses of humor. Confronting environmental issues in a clever and whimsical way, it is original, highly unexpected, beautiful, and thought-provoking. Aviary Wonders Inc. is by far one of the most creative books we have ever encountered.”

The 2014 Young Readers’ Literature finalists are The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet (Eerdmans); El Deafo by Cece Bell (Amulet/Abrams); The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos (Farrar, Straus Giroux); The Story of Owen, Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston (Carolrhoda Lab); The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell (Scholastic). 

The 2014 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature judges are Claudette S. McLinn, executive director at the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature; author Linda Sue Park; and Kirkus critic and children’s librarian John Edward Peters. Below (l-r), are Vicky Smith, the children’s and teen editor at Kirkus Reviews, judge Dr. Claudette McLinn, Young Readers’ Literature winner Kate Samworth and judges John Edward Peters and Linda Sue Park.

                      Judges photo 2

The winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction is Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast, published by Bloomsbury. The graphic memoir is a revelatory, groundbreaking, and often hilarious memoir by the New Yorker cartoonist on helping her parents through their old age. 

Chast couldn’t attend the ceremony because she was on book tour, so Bloomsbury sales rep Gillian Redfearn attended on her behalf. Below, Redfearn reads a statement from Chast as Kirkus Reviews publisher Marc Winkelman and editor in chief Claiborne Smith look on.

Third Photo kirkus prize coverage Judges’ statement: “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is a vital, significant wonder. Chast ingeniously combines cartoons, family photos, sketches, documents and text to explore a profoundly human issue: the death of one’s parents. In the hands of an author whose facility in two mediums—illustration and prose—is unparalleled, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? encourages anyone who reads it to face the grim and ridiculous reality of the human condition in all its heartbreaking beauty. One can’t help but finish this book with a sense of gratitude that Roz Chast has shared her memoir with the world. It is as imperative as it is moving.”

2014 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction Judges: Sarah Bagby, owner of Watermark Books Café in Wichita, Kansas; author Sloane Crosley; and Kirkus critic and author Gregory McNamee. Below are (l-r), nonfiction judge Sloane Crosley, fiction judge Stephanie Valdez and nonfiFourth photo kirkus prize coverage ction judge Sarah Bagby.

Nonfiction finalists: Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World by Leo Damrosch (Yale University Press); The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (Holt); The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science by Armand Marie Leroi (Viking); Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty (Harvard University Press); Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel Grau). Below (l-r), Kirkus Reviews publisher Marc Winkelman, nonfiction finalist Armand Marie Leroi, Jerry Hall, and SFifth photo Kirkus Prize coverageuzanne Winkelman. 

The 2014 Kirkus Prize for Fiction was awarded to Euphoria by Lily King, published by Atlantic Monthly Press. Set in Papua, New Guinea in the 1930s, Euphoria is a brilliant, astonishing and deeply moving novel inspired by the life of Margaret Mead and her passionate entanglement with two fellow anthropologists.

Judges’ statement: “Lily King has written the fiction book of the year. Euphoria stands out for its perfect construction, its economy and originality, and its fearlessness. This lushly imagined novel offers a thrilling exploration of the interplay between character and culture, between the darkness of humanity and the tenderness of the humaLily and Megn heart. It’s going to be a classic.” To the left, King accepts the Prize as chief operating officer Meg Kuehn looks on.   

2014 Kirkus Prize for Fiction judges are author Kate Christensen; Stephanie Valdez, co-owner of Community Bookstore and Terrace Books in Brooklyn; and Kirkus critic and author Marion Winik.

Fiction finalists: The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (Simon Schuster); All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu (Knopf); Florence Gordon by Brian Morton (Houghton Mifflin); The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach (Algonquin Books); The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Riverhead). Below are the winners of the 2014 Kirkus Prizes with their trophies: Kate Samworth, Lily King and Roz Chast (represented by Gillian Redfearn). 

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Thank you to the Kirkus Prize judges and Kirkus staff members who worked hard to create a spectacular first year for the Kirkus Prize!