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$150,000 TOTAL AWARDED to

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan


Austin, TX (October 15, 2015) – At a special ceremony tonight in the penthouse of the Four Seasons Residences in Austin, Kirkus Reviews, the nation’s leading journal of prepublication book reviews, announced the winners of the second annual Kirkus Prize in the categories of fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature.

The winners for the 2015 Kirkus Prize are:

YOUNG READERS’ LITERATURE: Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic). A multilayered middle-grade novel set in turbulent times explores music’s healing power. 

Judges’ Statement: Echo is a masterwork by a virtuoso storyteller. Ryan deftly weaves multiple tales into one cohesive narrative that crescendos before reaching a satisfying coda. Beautifully structured within a fairy-tale frame, Ryan’s skillful storytelling gently guides readers through multiple historical time periods to explore struggles of individual children on the fringes of society. Narratives intertwine through a singular musical instrument—the harmonica—celebrating the power of music to uplift and unite us across time and culture. 

2015 Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature judges: Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo, Professor at the University of Alabama School of Library and Information Studies, author Jon Scieszka, and librarian, teacher and Kirkus critic Stephanie Seales.

Young Readers’ Literature finalists: The New Small Person by Lauren Child (Candlewick); Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Shane W. Evans (Schwartz & Wade/Random House);Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams);The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (Levine/Scholastic); Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (Levine/Scholastic)

NONFICTION: Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel & Grau). Atlantic senior writer Ta-Nehisi Coates offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life.

Judges’ Statement: Between the World and Me is a formidable literary achievement and a crucial, urgent, and nuanced contribution to a long-overdue national conversation. All of the nominees in this category are works of superior achievement and extraordinary in very different ways. But Coates’ book, at once artful and intellectually rigorous, demands attention as both a magnificent personal expression and a masterful communication of complex and challenging ideas. Not only does it ask the right questions at the right time, its refusal to appease readers by offering simplistic answers underscores the writer’s uncommon journalistic and literary courage. 

2015 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction judges: author Meghan Daum, book buyer for the J. Paul Getty Museum Stores in Los Angeles Marie du Vaure, and journalist and Kirkus critic Clayton Moore.

Nonfiction finalists: Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War that Won It by John Ferling (Bloomsbury); H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (Grove); The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 by Adam Tooze (Viking); Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers by Simon Winchester (Harper); The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World by Andrea Wulf (Knopf).

FICTION: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday). Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor, and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Judges’ Statement: Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life is that rare hybrid: disturbing yet humane, capacious yet intimate, and never less than brilliant. Following four college friends over the decades as they ricochet between haven and harm, Yanagihara's sublime achievement will stay with you long after it is done, beguiling in its masterful language and elegant portraiture. A profound inquiry into the possibility—and impossibility—of redemption.

2015 Kirkus Prize for Fiction judges: journalist and Kirkus critic Megan Labrise, owner of The Bookworm of Edwards, near Vail, Colorado, Nicole Magistro, and author Colson Whitehead.

Fiction finalists: The Incarnations by Susan Barker (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster); A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin (FSG); Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Riverhead); The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli; translated by Christina MacSweeney (Coffee House Press); The Book of Aron by Jim Shepard (Knopf).

2015 marks the second year of the Kirkus Prize, one of the richest annual literary awards in the world, with a prize of $150,000 bestowed: $50,000 per category to the authors of fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature. It was created to celebrate the discerning, thoughtful criticism that Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large since it was founded in 1933 by Virginia Kirkus.


For more information about Kirkus Reviews and the Kirkus Prize, please visit Kirkus Reviews.

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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