Los Angeles Times Book Prizes to Honor James Ellroy and Freedom to Read Foundation

Los Angeles Times Book Prizes

The 43rd annual awards will recognize outstanding literary achievements in 12 categories, with winners to be announced on April 21


The Los Angeles Times today announced the finalists and honorees for the 43rd annual Book Prizes. James Ellroy will receive the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement and the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Foundation will be honored with the Innovator’s Award. Additionally, Javier Zamora will be presented with the Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose.

The Book Prizes recognize 56 remarkable works in 12 categories, celebrating the highest quality of writing from authors at all stages of their careers. Winners will be announced in a ceremony on Friday, April 21 at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, the evening before the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, taking place the weekend of April 22-23.

Author James Ellroy, best known for his L.A.-based crime novels “L.A. Confidential” and “The Black Dahlia,” will receive the 2022 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement, which recognizes a writer whose work focuses on the American West.


“We are pleased to recognize L.A. noir iconoclast James Ellroy with this year’s Kirsch Award,” said Times Books Editor Boris Kachka. “James’ writing life was shaped by the tragic, unsolved murder of his mother when he was 10, fostering an obsession with crime and the underworld that has animated his fiction and nonfiction across the decades.”

Ellroy’s best-selling L.A. Quartet novels marked his breakout as a powerful and transgressive voice in crime fiction. Since that original series of noirs, Ellroy has written an investigative memoir “The Dark Places,” as well as dozens of novels, some of which have been adapted into films, graphic novels and podcasts. Throughout his career, the author has been honored with many awards including the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allen Poe Grand Master Award.

The 2022 Innovator’s Award, which spotlights efforts to bring books, publishing and storytelling into the future, will be presented to the Freedom to Read Foundation. The non-profit organization will be honored for its work protecting and defending the First Amendment right to read and the right of library workers to serve their communities.

“Created to support and defend librarians, the organization is as important and relevant today as it was at its inception in 1969,” said Times Deputy Managing Editor of Entertainment and Strategy Julia Turner. “We honor its continued fight against book bans and its mission to protect all Americans’ right to read and access information.”

Salvadoran author and poet Javier Zamora is the winner of the 2022 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose for his debut memoir “Solito,” which recounts his journey migrating from El Salvador to California when he was nine years old. Sponsored by the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the award honors exceptional work and encompasses fiction, travel writing, memoir and diary.

“What’s impressive about this book is not just the story, but the way it’s told,” commented the judges of the Isherwood Prize. “Somehow Zamora, an award-winning poet, stays true to the child’s perspective at no sacrifice to language or craft. We’re delighted to give him this prize.”


The Book Prizes recognize titles in the following categories: autobiographical prose (the Christopher Isherwood Prize), biography, current interest, fiction, first fiction (the Art Seidenbaum Award), graphic novel/comics, history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science fiction (the Ray Bradbury Prize), science and technology, and young adult literature. Judging panels of writers who specialize in each genre select finalists and winners. The complete list of finalists and further information, including past winners, is available at Tickets to attend the Book Prizes ceremony, including VIP packages, are on sale now.

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is presented in association with USC. Festival news and updates are available on the event website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram (#bookfest).