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Kirkus announces its finalist lineup, and book prize season is looking good

The Kirkus Prize finalists were announced Tuesday, with six titles each in three categories — fiction, nonfiction and young readers literature. Because that final category is broken into three divisions (picture books, middle grade and young adult), its finalists are closer to winning — there are only two contenders in each reading age bracket.

For those who have not been keeping track, in the last two weeks, we have learned of the long lists for the National Book Award and the shortlist for the Man Booker Prize in fiction.

Fall is a heady time for books. The Nobel Prize in literature is generally announced in the second week of October. The Man Booker Prize, worth about $66,000, will be awarded to a fiction writer on Oct. 17. The Kirkus Prizes, each worth $50,000, will be awarded Nov. 2 in Texas in conjunction with the Texas Book Festival. The National Book Awards gala is held in New York on Nov. 15.

For the Kirkus Prizes, the books, which are selected by committees, are drawn from Kirkus’ pre-publication reviews; only books that are awarded a star rating are eligible.

The complete list of Kirkus finalists is below.

FICTION

“What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky: Stories” by Lesley Nneka Arimah, published by Riverhead

“Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid, published by Riverhead

“White Tears” by Hari Kunzru, published by Knopf

“The Ninth Hour” by Alice McDermott, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

“Her Body and Other Parties: Stories” by Carmen Maria Machado, published by Graywolf

“Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward, published by Scribner

NONFICTION

“The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea” by Jack E. Davis, published by Liveright /W.W. Norton

“The Seeds of Life: From Aristotle to da Vinci, From Sharks' Teeth to Frogs' Pants, the Long and Strange Quest to Discover Where Babies Come From” by Edward Dolnick, published by Basic Books

“Priestdaddy: A Memoir” by Patricia Lockwood, published by Riverhead

“Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions” by Valeria Luiselli, published by Coffee House Press

“The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South” by Michael Twitty, published by Amistad/HarperCollins

“Henry David Thoreau: A Life” by Laura Dassow Walls, published by the University of Chicago Press

YOUNG READERS LITERATURE

PICTURE BOOKS

“Walk With Me” by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng and translated by Elisa Amado, published by Groundwood

“Me Tall, You Small” by Lilli L’Arronge, translated by Madeleine Stratford, published by Owlkids

MIDDLE GRADE

“Bronze and Sunflower” by Cao Wenxuan, translated by Helen Wang and illustrated by Meilo So, published by Candlewick

“It All Comes Down to This” by Karen English, published by Clarion

YOUNG ADULT

“The Marrow Thieves” by Cherie Dimaline, published by DCB

“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, published by Balzer + Bray

carolyn.kellogg@latimes.com

@paperhaus

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