2016 Nominees: fiction

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 >
SPELLBREAKER by Blake Charlton
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 23, 2016

"Vivid, intelligent, and painful in an authentically laudable way."
"Where's the apocalypse?" wonder the characters and the reader as this epic fantasy trilogy reaches its long-awaited conclusion. Read full book review >
BEHOLD THE DREAMERS by Imbolo Mbue
Released: Aug. 23, 2016

"Realistic, tragic, and still remarkably kind to all its characters, this is a special book."
The American dream is put to the test by the economic disaster of 2007. Read full book review >
HOT MILK by Deborah Levy
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 12, 2016

"In her scintillating, provocative new book, Levy combines intellect and empathy to impressively modern effect."
Kinship, gender, Medusas—this rich new novel from a highly regarded British writer dazzles and teases with its many connections while exposing the double-edged sword of mother-daughter love. Read full book review >
CHAMPION OF THE WORLD by Chad Dundas
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 12, 2016

"Dundas suggests writers known for loosely historical works, such as Doctorow and Chabon, but he features a pared-down, punchy style that goes well with his characters' basic raw ambitions and emotions."
In 1920s America, when professional wrestling is in its dying years as a serious sport, one high-stakes contest brings together athletes, gangsters, and long-suffering women in this fine debut. Read full book review >
HEARTBREAKER by Maryse Meijer
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 12, 2016

"A dark and surprising new voice in short fiction."
The edgy stories in Meijer's debut collection cut like so many wild teeth: sharp, deep, and unforgiving. Read full book review >
NINETY-NINE STORIES OF GOD by Joy Williams
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 12, 2016

"Admirers of Williams—and anyone who treasures a story well told should be one—will find much to like here."
"Hell is unpleasant. Heaven is more pleasant." Williams, maker of superb short fictions, plumbs the distinction in this slender, evocative collection. Read full book review >
STRANGER, FATHER, BELOVED by Taylor Larsen
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 12, 2016

"An emotionally intelligent family drama that examines the breaking point of a marriage."
Larsen makes a noteworthy debut with a family drama that explores loyalty, lies, and well-being. Read full book review >
THE HOUSE AT THE EDGE OF NIGHT by Catherine Banner
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 12, 2016

"Ah, what fun. Don't miss it."
The story of a family-run bar on a tiny island off the coast of Sicily, from 1914 to 2009. Read full book review >
NIGHT OF THE ANIMALS by Bill Broun
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 5, 2016

"An impressive, richly imagined, deeply urgent story."
An Orwellian debut explodes ancient lore and contemporary technology to create a prescient, terrifying dystopia. Read full book review >
ABSALOM'S DAUGHTERS by Suzanne Feldman
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 5, 2016

"A searing and magical debut by a monumental new talent."
When Cassie and Judith catch wind that their runaway father is set to inherit a passel of money in far-off Virginia, they take off to claim their share. Read full book review >
A MEAL IN WINTER by Hubert Mingarelli
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 5, 2016

"The command of tone and voice sustains tension until the very last page of a novel that will long resonate in the reader's conscience."
A simple Holocaust story presents a complex moral equation. 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.