Eighteen finalists in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, and Young Readers’ Literature; $150,000 Bestowed Annually


New York, New York (September 13, 2021) – Kirkus Reviews, the nation’s leading journal of prepublication book reviews, today announced the 18 finalists for the eighth annual Kirkus Prize in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature.

Winners in the three categories will receive $50,000 each, making the Kirkus Prize one of the richest annual literary awards in the world. Books become eligible by receiving a rare, starred review from Kirkus Reviews. A panel of four judges for each category, composed of writers, booksellers, librarians, and Kirkus critics and editors, selects the Kirkus Prize finalists and winners.

“This year’s roster of finalists is as exceptional as any we’ve seen” says Kirkus Reviews editor-in-chief Tom Beer. “Our judges have surveyed a remarkably diverse field and identified the books that deserve the widest possible readership. That has always been our mission at Kirkus, and we’re thrilled to further it with this year’s prizes.”

This year’s finalists were chosen from the 749 young readers’ literature titles, 328 fiction titles, and 454 nonfiction titles that received starred reviews from the more than 10,000 total books reviewed by Kirkus during the period of eligibility. The three winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony livestreamed from the Austin Public Library in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, October 28, 2021.

The finalists for the 2021 Kirkus Prize are:


The judges for the 2021 Kirkus Prize in Fiction are: bestselling author Rumaan Alam; critic Elsbeth Lindner; bookseller Ikwo Ntekim; and Laurie Muchnick, fiction editor at Kirkus Reviews.


The judges for the 2021 Kirkus Prize in Nonfiction are: National Book Award–winning author Masha Gessen; critic Margaret Quamme; bookseller Karen Maeda Allman; and Eric Liebetrau, nonfiction and managing editor of Kirkus Reviews.


Picture Books:

Middle Grade:

Young Adult:

The judges for the 2021 Kirkus Prize in Young Readers’ Literature are: Young People’s Poet Laureate Naomi Shihab Nye; critic Amy Robinson;youth services librarian Chrystal Carr Jeter; and Laura Simeon, young readers’ editor at Kirkus Reviews.

The previous Kirkus Prize winners are:

2021 marks the eighth year of the Kirkus Prize. It 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.

Winners of the 2021 Kirkus Prize will be announced at a virtual ceremony via the Austin Public Library in Austin, Texas on Thursday, October 28 at 5:00pm (Central) / 6:00pm (Eastern).


For more information about the 2021 Kirkus Prize, including dates of eligibility, the rules and selection process, and bios of the finalists and judges, please visit


About Kirkus Reviews

For more than 87 years, Kirkus has been one of the most trusted and authoritative voices in book discovery. Kirkus Reviews covers more than 7,000 books published by traditional houses and more than 4,000 self-published books every year. The magazine is published on the 1st and 15th of every month, and because of the scope of its coverage, its authoritative voice, and the timeliness of its reviews, Kirkus Reviews is revered by many as the first indicator of a book’s potential.

The Chairman of Kirkus Media is Herb SimonMarc Winkelman is the President and Publisher, and Meg LaBorde Kuehn is the Chief Executive Officer. The Editor-in-Chief of Kirkus Reviews is Tom Beer. The Vice-President of Indie is Karen Schechner. Eric Liebetrau is the Managing Editor and Nonfiction Editor, Laurie Muchnick is the Fiction Editor, and Laura Simeon is a Young Readers’ Editor.

For more information about the Kirkus Prize, please visit

For further information on Kirkus, see



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