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

Kate Christensen, Author

Kate Christensen has published seven novels, including The Great Man, which won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. She also published two food-centric memoirs, Blue Plate Special and How to Cook a Moose, which won the 2016 Maine Literary Award for Memoir. Her shorter pieces have appeared in  Tin House, the Baffler, Down East, Portland Magazine, VogueElle, Bookforumthe New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Food and Wine, as well as in many anthologies

Stephanie Valdez, Bookseller

Stephanie Valdez is the co-owner of Community Bookstore and Terrace Books in Brooklyn.

Marion Winik, Critic

University of Baltimore professor Marion Winik is the author of The Big Book of the Dead and winner of the 2019 Towson Prize for Literature. Among her nine other books are First Comes Love and Highs in the Low Fifties. Her award-winning Bohemian Rhapsody column appears monthly at BaltimoreFishbowl.com, and her essays have been published in the New York Times Magazine, the Sun, and elsewhere. A board member of the National Book Critics Circle, she writes for People, Newsday, the Washington Post, and Kirkus Reviews, and hosts The Weekly Reader podcast at WYPR. She was a commentator on NPR for 15 years; her honors include an NEA Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction.

NONFICTION

Sloane Crosley, Author

Sloane Crosley is the author of the New York Times bestselling essay collections I Was Told There’d Be Cake (a 2009 finalist for The Thurber Prize for American Humor) and How Did You Get This Number, as well as Look Alive Out There (a 2019 finalist for The Thurber Prize for American Humor) and the bestselling novel The Clasp. She is featured in The Library of America's 50 Funniest American Writers, The Best American Nonrequired Reading and others. She also co-authored the novel Read Bottom Up using the pen name Skye Chatham. Her work has appeared in Esquire, Elle, GQ, Vogue, the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, the Guardian, New York magazine, The Believer, Vice, and on National Public Radio. She is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and was a 2018 Yaddo fellow. She lives in Manhattan.

Sarah Bagby, Bookseller

Sarah Bagby is the owner of Watermark Books & Café in Wichita, Kansas.

Gregory McNamee, Critic

Gregory McNamee is a writer, journalist, editor, photographer, and publisher. He is the author or title-page editor of more than 40 books and author of more than 6,000 periodical pieces, including articles, essays, reviews, interviews, editorials, poems, and short stories. He is a contributing editor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica and to Kirkus Reviews. His work has appeared in Science, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Outside, Smithsonian, AARP, and Native Peoples. McNamee operates Sonora Wordworks, an editorial and publishing service, and is also the publisher of Polytropos Press.

YOUNG READERS’ LITERATURE

Linda Sue Park, Author

Linda Sue Park is the author of many books for young readers, including the 2002 Newbery Medal winner A Single Shard and the New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water. Her most recent titles are Gondra's Treasure and Nya's Long Walk, both picture books; her new middle-grade historical fiction novel Prairie Lotus will be published in March 2020. When she's not writing, speaking, teaching, or caregiving for her two grandchildren, she spends most of her time on diversity/equity/inclusion work for We Need Diverse Books and the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators. She has served as a panelist for several awards and grants, including the Kirkus Prize, the National Book Award, the PEN Naylor grant, and the SCBWI Golden Kite Award. In her travels to promote reading and writing, she has visited more than 30 countries and 49 states. She hopes to be invited to Mississippi one day soon.

Claudette S. McLinn, Librarian

Claudette S. McLinn is the executive director at the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature.

John Edward Peters, Critic

John Edward Peters grew up in Denver, Colorado, earned a graduate degree at Columbia University’s School of Library Service, and worked for over 30 years as a children’s librarian for the Brooklyn and New York Public Libraries. He retired in 2010 as the supervising librarian for NYPL’s Children’s Center at 42nd Street. He has served on numerous national children’s book list and award committees, including Boston Globe-Horn Book, Newbery, Caldecott, Batchelder, Sibert, and Kirkus. He has been a contributor to Kirkus Reviews since 1986, and also writes and reviews for several other professional journals. He lives in The Bronx.

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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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