2016 Winners

THE SPORT OF KINGS by C.E. Morgan
Released: May 3, 2016

"Vaultingly ambitious, thrillingly well-written, charged with moral fervor and rueful compassion. How will this dazzling writer astonish us next time?"
Morgan follows up her slim, keening debut (All the Living, 2009) with an epic novel steeped in American history and geography.Read full book review >
IN THE DARKROOM by Susan Faludi
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 14, 2016

"A moving and penetrating inquiry into manifold struggles for identity, community, and authenticity."
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist investigates the "fluidity and binaries" of "modern transsexuality." Read full book review >
AS BRAVE AS YOU by Jason Reynolds
CHILDREN'S AND TEEN
Released: May 3, 2016

"This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past's repercussions on the present. (Fiction. 9-12)"
Eleven-year-old Brooklynite Genie has "worry issues," so when he and his older brother, Ernie, are sent to Virginia to spend a month with their estranged grandparents while their parents "try to figure it all out," he goes into overdrive. Read full book review >
IMAGINE ME GONE by Adam Haslett
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 3, 2016

"As vivid and moving as the novel is, it's not because Haslett strives to surprise but because he's so mindful and expressive of how much precious life there is in both normalcy and anguish."
This touching chronicle of love and pain traces half a century in a family of five from the parents' engagement in 1963 through a father's and son's psychological torments and a final crisis. Read full book review >
CAROUSEL COURT by Joe McGinniss Jr.
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 2, 2016

"McGinniss covers familiar territory in the marketplace and marriage but injects it with an urgency, a sense of constant, inescapable threat that all adds up to a taut page-turner."
A young couple's plan to flip a house in Southern California goes awry and old wounds in their marriage reopen in this dark novel of unrelenting tension. Read full book review >
BARKSKINS by Annie Proulx
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 14, 2016

"Another tremendous book from Proulx, sure to find and enthrall many readers."
Renowned author Proulx (Bird Cloud: A Memoir, 2011, etc.) moves into Michener territory with a vast multigenerational story of the North Woods.Read full book review >
A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

"A masterly encapsulation of modern Russian history, this book more than fulfills the promise of Towles' stylish debut, Rules of Civility (2011)."
Sentenced to house arrest in Moscow's Metropol Hotel by a Bolshevik tribunal for writing a poem deemed to encourage revolt, Count Alexander Rostov nonetheless lives the fullest of lives, discovering the depths of his humanity. Read full book review >
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

"Whitehead continues the African-American artists' inquiry into race mythology and history with rousing audacity and razor-sharp ingenuity; he is now assuredly a writer of the first rank."
What if the metaphorical Underground Railroad had been an actual…underground railroad, complete with steam locomotive pulling a "dilapidated box car" along a subterranean nexus of steel tracks? Read full book review >
EVICTED by Matthew Desmond
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: March 1, 2016

"This stunning, remarkable book—a scholar's 21st-century How the Other Half Lives—demands a wide audience."
A groundbreaking work on the central role of housing in the lives of the poor. Read full book review >
THE BLACK PRESIDENCY by Michael Eric Dyson
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Dyson succeeds admirably in creating a base line for future interpretations of this historic presidency. His well-written book thoroughly illuminates the challenges facing a black man elected to govern a society that is far from post-racial."
An early assessment of America's first black presidency. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Oct. 18, 2016

"This first-rate journey into human trafficking, slavery, and familial bonding is an engrossing example of spirited, determined reportage."
A consummate chronicler of the American South spotlights the extraordinary history of two kidnapped African-American brothers enslaved as a circus sideshow act. Read full book review >
HILLBILLY ELEGY by J.D. Vance
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 28, 2016

"An unusually timely and deeply affecting view of a social class whose health and economic problems are making headlines in this election year."
A Yale Law School graduate's account of his traumatic hillbilly childhood and the plight of America's angry white working class. Read full book review >
THUNDER BOY JR. by Sherman Alexie
CHILDREN'S AND TEEN
Released: May 10, 2016

"An expertly crafted, soulful, and humorous work that tenderly explores identity, culture, and the bond between father and son. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Thunder Boy Smith Jr. hates his name. Read full book review >
FREEDOM OVER ME by Ashley  Bryan
CHILDREN'S AND TEEN
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

"Bryan makes real and palpable what chattel slavery meant and how it affected those who were enslaved; every child who studies American slavery would benefit from experiencing this historically grounded web of narratives. (author's note) (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)"
Bryan gives voices to the voiceless and presents the dreams of slaves who went to the grave without living them. Read full book review >
THE READER by Traci Chee
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

"This cleverly layered fantasy leaves more questions than it answers, but fortunately, it's only the first of what promises to be an enchanting series. (Fantasy. 14 & up)"
In her debut for teens, Chee takes readers on a heart-racing adventure. Read full book review >
BURN BABY BURN by Meg Medina
Released: March 8, 2016

"An important story of one of New York City's most dangerous times. (Historical fiction. 13-18)"
A Cuban-American girl comes of age in Flushing, Queens, in 1977, against the backdrop of the Son of Sam murder spree. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S AND TEEN
Released: May 3, 2016

"A thorough and accessible introduction to the Holocaust and the students who dared to take a stand against evil. (source notes, picture credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)"
In the heart of Germany, a student resistance movement called the White Rose took a courageous stand to denounce the Nazis. Read full book review >

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ABOUT THE KIRKUS PRIZE

The Kirkus Prize is one of the richest literary awards in the world, with a prize of $50,000 bestowed annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature. It was created to celebrate the 81 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large. Books that earned the Kirkus Star with publication dates between November 1, 2015, and October 31, 2016 (see FAQ for exceptions), are automatically nominated for the 2016 Kirkus Prize, and the winners will be selected on November 3, 2016, by an esteemed panel composed of nationally respected writers and highly regarded booksellers, librarians and Kirkus critics.