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Judges will announce six finalists in each category: Fiction, Nonfiction and Young Readers' Literature on September 19, 2017 Winners to be announced at a special ceremony in Austin on November 2, 2017



August 21, 2017 – Kirkus Reviews, the nation’s leading journal of prepublication book reviews, announced the judges for the fourth annual Kirkus Prize, one of the richest literary awards in the world. The judges for the Kirkus Prize will award $50,000 in each of three categories: fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature on November 2, 2017. Panels of three highly regarded judges, composed of a writer, a bookseller or librarian, and a Kirkus critic, select the 2017 Kirkus Prize finalists and winners from among titles that have received a starred Kirkus review with publication dates between September 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017. Created in 2014, the Kirkus Prize celebrates the 84 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large.

The judges for the 2017 Kirkus Prize are: (full bios follow at the end of the release)

Fiction Panel: Mark Athitakis, Hannah Oliver Depp, Meg Wolitzer

Nonfiction Panel: Ibram X. Kendi, Javier Ramirez, Linda Simon

Young Readers’ Literature Panel: Jos N. Holman, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Laura Simeon

The judges will select six finalists in the categories of fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature, to be announced on September 19, 2017. The three winners will then be announced at a special ceremony in Austin on November 2, 2017. Previous winners include Susan Faludi’s In the Darkroom, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds, and Roz Chast’s memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant.


Kirkus critic Mark Athitakis has written about books and authors for many publications, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Barnes & Noble Review, and He has been a board member of the National Book Critics Circle and served for two years as the chair of its fiction committee. His book, The New Midwest: A Guide to Contemporary Fiction of the Great Lakes, Great Plains, and Rust Belt, was released this year by Belt Publishing. He lives in Arizona.

Hannah Oliver Depp is the Operations Director of WORD Bookstores in Jersey City, N.J. and Brooklyn, N.Y. She serves on the American Bookselling Association Diversity Task Force, the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association board of directors, and is a founding member of Indies Forward, an organization dedicated to fostering the next generation of bookselling industry leaders. She writes for BookRiot and co-hosts the PostRacial, PostGender, PostPodcast Podcast. She likes King Arthur, holds a master’s degree in literature from American University, and is an East Coast woman for life. 

Meg Wolitzer is the author, most recently, of The Interestings, which was named a best book of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Time, and the Chicago Tribune, and a notable book by the New York Times Book Review and the Washington Post. Previous novels include The Uncoupling, The Ten-Year Nap, The Position, and The Wife. She has also written for young readers. Wolitzer was guest editor of The Best American Short Stories 2017, and is on the faculty of the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton. She lives in New York City.


Ibram X. Kendi is Professor of History and International Relations and the Founding Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington, DC. His second book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Stamped was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and a NAACP Image Award. Kendi is the author of the award-winning book, The Black Campus Movement: Black Students and the Racial Reconstitution of Higher Education, 1965-1972. He has published essays in academic journals and periodicals, including The New York Times, Salon, Time, The Washington Post, Black Perspectives, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. He has received research fellowships, grants, and visiting appointments from a variety of universities, foundations, professional associations, and libraries, including the American Historical Association, Library of Congress, National Academy of Education, Spencer Foundation, Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, and Brown University. Kendi lives in Washington, DC.

If you know the name of a Chicago bookstore, it’s highly likely that Book Table manager Javier Ramirez has worked there. One of the industry’s most voracious readers, he consumes everything: children’s books, serious nonfiction, and all literature in between (with a soft spot for horror). Since 2011, he has co-hosted Publishing Cocktails, the semi-annual gatherings of Chicago’s literati, pairing libations with bookstore cash mobs, author appearances, and book swaps—where he is always easy to spot in his signature band T-shirts, handing out hugs, laughter, and book/film/music recommendations. Profiled by the Chicago Tribune, recipient of a James Patterson holiday bonus, one of New City’s Lit 50 2015, and with more than a handful of well-known novels by notable authors featuring his name listed in the acknowledgments, Javier is truly the definition of a “literary citizen.”

Linda Simon, a Kirkus critic and member of the National Book Critics Circle, is the author of several biographies (of Coco Chanel, William James, Thornton Wilder, Alice B. Toklas) and cultural histories. Her most recent book is Lost Girls: The Invention of the Flapper. Her reviews have appeared in many publications, including Kirkus Reviews, the Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Georgia Review, Journal of American History, Los Angeles Times, Michigan Quarterly Review, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, New England Quarterly, Newsday, New York Times Book Review, Novel, Philosophy and Literature, Smithsonian, South Atlantic Quarterly, Women’s Review of Books, and Washington Post Book World.


Jos N. Holman is the director of the Tippecanoe County Public Library in Lafayette, Indiana, having started his library career as a children’s librarian. He earned his master’s in library and information science at the University of Texas. He is a former president of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and has served on both the Newbery and Caldecott committees of the Association for Library Service to Children as well as numerous state and regional organizations. As a performer, he enacts oral interpretations of black poetry, tells stories, and juggles.

Pam Muñoz Ryan is the 2018 U.S. nominee for the international Hans Christian Andersen award, and the author of the 2015 Kirkus Prize winner and Newbery Honor book Echo. She has written over 40 books for young people—picture books, early readers, and middle grade and young adult novels. She is the author recipient of the NEA's Human and Civil Rights Award, the Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, the Willa Cather Award, the Pura Belpré medal, the PEN USA award, and many others. Her novels include Esperanza Rising, Riding Freedom, Becoming Naomi León, Paint the Wind, The Dreamer, and Echo. She was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, holds a bachelor's and master's degree from San Diego State University, and lives in north San Diego county in California with her family.

Kirkus reviewer Laura Simeon is the librarian and diversity coordinator at Open Window School in Bellevue, Washington. She has a master’s in history from the University of British Columbia and a master’s in library and information science from the University of Washington. She is co-chair of the U.S. Selection Committee for the United World Colleges, international secondary schools dedicated to promoting intercultural understanding; a member of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee; a guest blogger for Lee & Low; a School Library Journal reviewer, and a past member of the VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers selection committee. 


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 from 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.


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