2017 Winners

WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY by Lesley Nneka Arimah
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 4, 2017

"Heralds a new voice with certain staying power."
Nigeria serves as a prism refracting the myriad experiences of both former and current inhabitants. Read full book review >
THE GULF by Jack E. Davis
NON-FICTION
Released: March 14, 2017

"An elegant narrative braced by a fierce, sobering environmental conviction."
A sweeping environmental history of the Gulf of Mexico that duly considers the ravages of nature and man. Read full book review >
THE MARROW THIEVES by Cherie  Dimaline
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

"A dystopian world that is all too real and that has much to say about our own. (Science fiction. 14-adult)"
In an apocalyptic future Canada, Indigenous people have been forced to live on the run to avoid capture by the Recruiters, government military agents who kidnap Indians and confine them to facilities called "schools." Read full book review >
WHITE TEARS by Hari Kunzru
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 14, 2017

"A well-turned and innovative tale that cannily connects old-time blues and modern-day minstrelsy."
Record collecting turns dangerous in a smart, time-bending tale about cultural appropriation. Read full book review >
EXIT WEST by Mohsin Hamid
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 7, 2017

"One of the most bittersweet love stories in modern memory and a book to savor even while despairing of its truths."
Hamid (Discontent and Its Civilizations, 2014, etc.) crafts a richly imaginative tale of love and loss in the ashes of civil war. Read full book review >
THE NINTH HOUR by Alice McDermott
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 19, 2017

"Everything that her readers, the National Book Award committee, and the Pulitzer Prize judges love about McDermott's (Someone, 2013, etc.) stories of Irish-Catholic American life is back in her eighth novel."
In Brooklyn in the early 20th century, The Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor are intimately involved in the lives of their community. Read full book review >
HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES by Carmen Maria Machado
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

"An exceptional and pungently inventive first book."
Machado's debut collection brings together eight stories that showcase her fluency in the bizarre, magical, and sharply frightening depths of the imagination. Read full book review >
SING, UNBURIED, SING by Jesmyn Ward
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

"As with the best and most meaningful American fiction these days, old truths are recast here in new realities rife with both peril and promise."
The terrible beauty of life along the nation's lower margins is summoned in this bold, bright, and sharp-eyed road novel. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: June 6, 2017

"The best sort of science history, explaining not only how great men made great discoveries, but why equally great men, trapped by prejudices and what seemed to be plain common sense, missed what was in front of their noses."
A history of the "search for the solution to the sex and conception mystery," focused on the period between 1650 and 1900. Read full book review >
PRIESTDADDY by Patricia Lockwood
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 2, 2017

"A linguistically dexterous, eloquently satisfying narrative debut."
A noted young poet unexpectedly boomerangs back into her parents' home and transforms the return into a richly textured story of an unconventional family and life. Read full book review >
TELL ME HOW IT ENDS by Valeria Luiselli
Released: April 4, 2017

"A powerful call to action and to empathy."
A heartfelt plea to change the dialogue on Latin American children fleeing violence in their homelands to seek refuge in America. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2017

"An exemplary, inviting exploration and an inspiration for cooks and genealogists alike."
Food historian Twitty, creator of the Afroculinaria blog, serves up a splendid hearth-based history, at once personal and universal, of the African-American experience. Read full book review >
HENRY DAVID THOREAU by Laura Dassow Walls
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 6, 2017

"Thoreau has inspired so many esteemed biographies that it's difficult to claim any new one as definitive. However, Walls delivers a sympathetic and honest portrait that fully captures the private and public life of this singular American figure."
A superbly researched and written literary portrait that broadens our understanding of the great American writer and pre-eminent naturalist who has too long been regarded as a self-righteous scold. Read full book review >
WALK WITH ME by Jairo Buitrago
Kirkus Star
by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng, translated by Elisa Amado
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 14, 2017

"Emotionally resonant in the loveliest of ways. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A lion accompanies a child on a walk home during a day in the city in this wistful tale of parental absence. Read full book review >
ME TALL, YOU SMALL by Lilli  L'Arronge
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 15, 2017

"This book delights on many levels as it affirms the importance of young children's close relationships. (Picture book. 3-5)"
Readers tall and small will recognize themselves between the pages of this book. Read full book review >
BRONZE AND SUNFLOWER by Cao Wenxuan
Kirkus Star
by Cao Wenxuan, translated by Helen Wang, illustrated by Meilo So
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 14, 2017

"Readers of all ages should be prepared to laugh, cry, and sigh with satisfaction. (historical note, author's note) (Historical fiction. 9-14)"
Set during China's Cultural Revolution (1960s-70s), this import follows the trials and tribulations of a poor, rural family. Read full book review >
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS by Karen English
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 11, 2017

"A slice of African-American life seldom explored in stories for young people and a must for readers of middle-grade fiction. (Historical fiction. 10-12)"
Twelve-year-old Sophie is the younger of two sisters in an upper-middle-class African-American family in 1965 Los Angeles. Read full book review >
THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 28, 2017

"This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)"
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school. Read full book review >

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 85 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large. Books that earn the Kirkus Star with publication dates between Nov. 1, 2017 to Oct. 31, 2018 (see FAQ for exceptions), are automatically nominated for the 2018 Kirkus Prize. Six finalists in each of three categories will be announced on Tuesday, September 25, 2018. The Kirkus Prize judges will select three winners on Thursday, October 25, 2018.