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Contact: Kimberly Burns, or 212-226-0981



$150,000 TOTAL AWARDED to

Aviary Wonders Inc. by Kate Samworth, Euphoria by Lily King, and Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast


Austin, TX (October 23, 2014) – At a special ceremony tonight in the penthouse of the Four Seasons Residences in Austin, Kirkus Reviews, the nation’s leading prepublication journal of book reviews, announced the winners for the first-ever Kirkus Prize in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction and Young Readers’ Literature.

The winners for the 2014 Kirkus Prize are:

YOUNG READERS’ LITERATURE: Aviary Wonders Inc.: Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth (Clarion) – Modeled 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!

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."

2014 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature Judges: Claudette S. McLinn, executive director at the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature; author Linda Sue Park; Kirkus critic and children’s librarian John Edward Peters.

Young Readers’ Literature finalists: 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)

FICTION: Euphoria by Lily King (Atlantic Monthly Press) – Set in Papua New Guinea in the 1930’s, 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 human heart. It’s going to be a classic.”

2014 Kirkus Prize for Fiction Judges: 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)

NONFICTION: Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury) – A revelatory, groundbreaking, and often times hilarious, memoir by the New Yorker cartoonist on helping her parents through their old age.

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, KS; author Sloane Crosley; and Kirkus critic and author Gregory McNamee.

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)

2014 marks the first year of the Kirkus Prize, one of the richest literary awards in the world, with a prize of $150,000 bestowed annually: $50,000 per category to authors of fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature. It was created to celebrate the 81 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism that Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large.

The 2015 Kirkus Prize will consider titles that receive a Kirkus Star and are published between November 1, 2014 and October 31, 2015. The judges for the 2015 Kirkus Prize will be announced on December 2, 2014. Finalists in the three categories of fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature to be announced on September 25, 2015. The winners of the 2015 Kirkus Prize will be announced on October 23, 2015.

About Kirkus Reviews

Founded in 1933, Kirkus has been one of the most trusted and authoritative voices in book discovery. When Kirkus Reviews was established by Virginia Kirkus, it was an innovation in the publishing field. Virginia arranged to receive advance galley proofs of books from publishers — only 20 or so at first, but eventually nearly every firm of any size in the industry. She read the galleys and wrote brief, critical evaluations of their literary merit and probable popular appeal. Today, Kirkus Reviews covers more than 7,000 books published by traditional houses and more than 3,000 self-published books every year. The magazine is published on the 1st and 15th of every month, and because of the scope of their coverage, their authoritative voice and the timeliness of their reviews, Kirkus Reviews is revered by many as the first indicator of a book’s potential. For more information, visit

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