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L.A. Times 41st Book Prizes Winners Announced

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41st annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes ceremony

The winning authors were honored in a virtual ceremony hosted by Times Book Editor Boris Kachka

Tonight, the 41st annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes were awarded in a livestreamed virtual ceremony. Hosted by Times Book Editor Boris Kachka, the literary awards recognized 56 remarkable works in 12 categories, championing new voices and celebrating the highest quality of writing.

“The pandemic has upended every single aspect of our lives, but I suspect many of you will agree with me that it’s only deepened our appreciation for the solitary pleasure of reading,” said Kachka in his introduction. “[Reading] is solitary but of course it’s communal, too, because in reading we communicate with socially-distanced writers and all their characters, real or invented. We may isolate, but as long as we have books we are never isolated.”

To announce the winners, Kachka was joined by judges of the 2020 competition, including Tananarive Due (Ray Bradbury Prize for science fiction), Jenny McPhee (fiction), B. Mason (science and technology), Angie Wang (graphic novel/comics) and more. Presentations were followed with video of the winners discussing their books.

In addition to the 12 award category announcements, Leslie Marmon Silko was honored with the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) received the Innovator’s Award for its contributions and work assisting struggling independent bookstores and employees in a year when many small businesses were forced to shut their doors.

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The 2020 Book Prize winners follow:

  • Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction: Deesha Philyaw, “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies,” West Virginia University Press
  • Biography: William Souder, “Mad at the World: A Life of John Steinbeck,” W.W. Norton & Co.
  • Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose: Andrew O’Hagan, “Mayflies,” Faber & Faber
  • Current Interest: Isabel Wilkerson, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” Random House
  • Fiction: David Diop and Anna Moschovakis (translator), “At Night All Blood Is Black: A Novel,” Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Graphic Novel/Comics: Bishakh Som, “Apsara Engine,” Feminist Press at CUNY
  • History: Martha S. Jones, “Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All,” Basic Books
  • Mystery/Thriller: S.A. Cosby, “Blacktop Wasteland: A Novel,” Flatiron Books
  • Poetry: Victoria Chang, “Obit,” Copper Canyon Press
  • Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction: Stephen Graham Jones, “The Only Good Indians,” Gallery / Saga Press
  • Science & Technology: Sara Seager, “The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir,” Crown
  • Young Adult Literature: Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam, “Punching the Air,” Balzer + Bray

The complete list of 2020 Book Prizes finalists and previous winners is available at latimes.com/BookPrizes, as is eligibility and judging information.

The Book Prizes awards ceremony is a prologue to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which will feature over 35 individual events, taking place April 17 to 23. The Festival of Books is presented in association with USC. Festival news and updates are available on the event website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (#bookfest).


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