The award was announced March 9 along with the 45 finalists for the 2004 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes during an evening reception at the National Arts Club in New York. Serving as event hosts were Times Editor John Carroll; Kenneth Turan, Director of the Book Prizes and Times film critic; and Times Book Editor Steve Wasserman.
The Book Prizes will be presented April 22 at UCLA's Royce Hall in Los Angeles. In addition to the Kirsch Award, the evening will honor 2004's outstanding books in nine categories: biography, current interest, fiction, first fiction (the Art Seidenbaum Award), history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science and technology, and young adult fiction.
The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes were established in 1980. Each Book Prize includes a $1,000 cash award. The named awards commemorate the life and work of Robert Kirsch, who served as The Times' book critic for more than 25 years prior to his death in 1980, and of the late Art Seidenbaum, who founded the Book Prizes.
The Kirsch Award recognizes the body of work of an author who resides in and/or whose work focuses on the Western United States. Tony Hillerman lives in New Mexico and has used the peoples, culture and landscape of the American Southwest extensively in his many books, including the 16-book collection known as The Navajo Mysteries. His first novel, The Blessing Way, was published in 1970, and his most recent book, The Sinister Pig, was published in 2003.
Author/journalist Sir Harold Evans will emcee the April 22nd event. Presenting the 2004 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes will be Douglas Brinkley, Jennifer Donnelly, Carol Muske Dukes, Neal Gabler, Michael Kinsley, Jonathan Kirsch, T. Jefferson Parker, Sally Ride, Alice Sebold and Patricia Seidenbaum. Seidenbaum is the widow of Art Seidenbaum, and author Jonathan Kirsch is the son of the late Robert Kirsch.
Information about the awards ceremony and the Book Prize awards program is available at www.latimes.com/bookprizes or by calling 1-800-LATIMES, ext. 72366.
The Book Prize awards ceremony will kick off the 10th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, one of the nation's premier public literary festivals and the largest of its kind on the West Coast. The festival will be held April 23-24 on the UCLA campus.
Book Prize Finalists
Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (Penguin Press)
Stephen Greenblatt, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (W.W. Norton & Company)
Richard Rhodes, John James Audubon: The Making of an American (Alfred A. Knopf)
Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, de Kooning: An American Master (Alfred A. Knopf)
Michael J. Ybarra, Washington Gone Crazy: Senator Pat McCarran and the Great American Communist Hunt (Steerforth Press)
Karen Armstrong, The Spiral Staircase: My Climb out of Darkness (Alfred A. Knopf)
Edward Conlon, Blue Blood (Riverhead Books)
Michael Dirda, Bound to Please: An Extraordinary One-Volume Literary Education -- Essays on Great Writers and Their Books (W.W. Norton & Company)