Kirkus Prize Judges

Each panel is composed of an author, a bookseller or librarian, and a Kirkus critic.

FICTION
2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Min Jin Lee, Author

Min Jin Lee is a recipient of fellowships in Fiction from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard. Her novel Pachinko (2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, a runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize, and a New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017. A New York Times bestseller, Pachinko was also a Top 10 Books of the Year for BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the New York Public Library.

Michelle Malonzo, Bookseller

Michelle Malonzo is a buyer at Changing Hands Bookstore which has two locations in Arizona. Before that she worked for nearly 10 years at Penguin Random House, starting out as a publicity assistant at G. P. Putnam's Sons and Riverhead Books. Michelle is on the board of directors of the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association (MPIBA), is a member of the American Booksellers Association Diversity Task Force, and previously served on the MPIBA Advisory Council.

David L. Ulin, Critic

David L. Ulin is the author or editor of 10 books, including Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles (2015), shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a Tom and Mary Gallagher Fellowship from Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship. The former book editor and book critic of the Los Angeles Times, he teaches at the University of Southern California.

NONFICTION

Jack E. Davis, Author

Jack E. Davis is the author of The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea (2017), recipient of the Kirkus Prize for nonfiction and the Pulitzer Prize in history. A professor of history and occupant of the Rothman Family Chair in the Humanities at the University of Florida, Davis was awarded an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship in 2019 to support his next book project, the cultural and natural history of the bald eagle.

Aaron John Curtis, Bookseller

A member of the Akwesasne Kenien'kehá:ka (St. Regis Mohawk Tribe), Aaron John Curtis is known as Books & Books' Quartermaster, which means he does whatever the bookstore needs on a given day. He wrote the monthly column "Book Junky" for Moxxi, Miami's style magazine for women. He also reviewed books for Miami's blog collective, The Heat Lightning. Curtis judged IndieBound's first Indie's Introduce debut author program and has been a reader for the Center for Fiction's Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and the Southern Independent Booksellers Association awards. He was on the American Booksellers Association's panel for the Revisit & Rediscover backlist initiative and is a member of the ABA's Booksellers Advisory Council.

Richard Z. Santos, Critic

Richard Z. Santos is a writer and high school teacher living in Austin. His essays, reviews, and profiles have appeared in Kirkus Reviews, The Morning News, The Rumpus, Cosmonauts Avenue, the San Antonio Express News, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and many others. For three years he has served as a judge for the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize. His fiction has appeared in multiple venues and he has recently completed his second novel.

YOUNG READERS’ LITERATURE

Mitali Perkins, Author

Mitali Perkins has written 12 novels for young readers, including Between Us and Abuela (2019), Forward Me Back to You (2019), You Bring the Distant Near (2017), and Rickshaw Girl (2008), all of which explore crossing different kinds of borders. She was honored as a "Most Engaging Author" by independent booksellers across the country and has addressed a diversity of audiences in schools and libraries, as well as at festivals and conferences. Mitali was born in Kolkata, India, before immigrating to the United States.

Pauletta Brown Bracy, Librarian

Pauletta Brown Bracy is Professor of Library Science at North Carolina Central University. She has taught courses in children's and young adult services and literature; her areas of interest include the portrayal of the African American experience in children's and young adult literature. Pauletta has been active in the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, having served as Chair (2015-2017) and Chair of both the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury and the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement Jury. She is the 2019 recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Hanna Lee, Critic

Kirkus reviewer Hanna Lee is the Youth Services Coordinator at First Regional Library in northwest Mississippi. A former American Library Association Emerging Leader, she will serve on the 2021 Caldecott Medal jury. She was a member of ALA's Association for Library Service to Children's 2017-2018 Notable Children's Recordings Committee, has provided academic support to students of color and first generation college students, taught middle and high school students, and served in the administration at an international school.

The Magazine: Kirkus Reviews

Singer/songwriter Tori Amos gets political in a new book, Resistance.

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  • The Kirkus Star

    One of the most coveted designations in the book industry, the Kirkus Star marks books of exceptional merit.

  • The Kirkus Prize

    The Kirkus Prize is among the richest literary awards in America, awarding $50,000 in three categories annually.

    See the 2019 winners.

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