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Kirkus Reviews announces six finalists in each of the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction and Young Readers’ Literature; Each winner to receive $50,000



New York, NY, September 19, 2017Kirkus Reviews, the nation’s leading pre-publication journal of book reviews, today announced the six finalists for the fourth annual Kirkus Prize in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Young Readers’ Literature. The Kirkus Prize is one of the richest annual literary awards in the world. Winners in the three categories will each receive $50,000, and will be announced at a special ceremony in Austin, Texas on Thursday, November 2, 2017.

This year’s finalists were chosen from 610 young readers’ literature titles, 369 fiction titles, and 293 nonfiction titles. Eligible books have received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews over the past year. An esteemed panel of judges, composed of nationally respected writers and highly regarded booksellers, librarians, and Kirkus critics, select the Kirkus Prize finalists and winners.

The finalists for the 2017 Kirkus Prize are:


  • What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories by Lesley Nneka Arimah (Riverhead)
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead)
  • White Tears by Hari Kunzru (Knopf)
  • The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf)
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner)

The judges for the 2017 Kirkus Prize in Fiction are: Kirkus critic and author Mark Athitakis, bookseller and NAIBA board member Hannah Oliver Depp, and writer Meg Wolitzer.


  • The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea by Jack E. Davis (Liveright/Norton)
  • The Seeds of Life: From Aristotle to da Vinci, from Sharks' Teeth to Frogs' Pants, the Long and Strange Quest to Discover Where Babies Come fromby Edward Dolnick (Basic)
  • Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood (Riverhead)
  • Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions by Valeria Luiselli (Coffee House)
  • The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty (Amistad/HarperCollins)
  • Henry David Thoreau: A Life by Laura Dassow Walls (Univ. of Chicago) 

The judges for the 2017 Kirkus Prize in Nonfiction are: 2016 National Book Award winner Ibram X. Kendi, Book Table manager Javier Ramirez, and Kirkus critic and author Linda Simon.


Picture Books:

  • Walk With Me by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng and translated by Elisa Amado (Groundwood)
  • Me Tall, You Small by Lilli L’Arronge and translated by Madeleine Stratford (Owlkids)

Middle Grade:

  • Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan, translated by Helen Wang, and illustrated by Meilo So (Candlewick)
  • It All Comes Down to This by Karen English (Clarion)

Young Adult:

  • The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline (DCB)
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray)

The judges for the 2017 Kirkus Prize in Young Readers’ Literature are: librarian Jos N. Holman, a former president of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association; writer Pam Muñoz Ryan, the author of Echo, a 2015 Kirkus Prize winner and Newbery Honor book; and Kirkus critic and librarian Laura Simeon.

For the first time, a finalist has received her second nomination. Valeria Luiselli, author of nonfiction finalist Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions was nominated in the fiction category in 2015 for her novel The Story of My Teeth.

The Kirkus Prize was created in 2014 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. The previous Kirkus Prize winners are:

  • 2016: The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan, In the Darkroom by Susan Faludi, and As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds
  • 2015: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • 2014: Euphoria by Lily King, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast, and Aviary Wonders Inc. by Kate Samworth.


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. 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 about the Kirkus Prize, including dates of eligibility, its rules and selection process, reviews of the finalists’ books and bios of the judges, please visit For further information on Kirkus see