Los Angeles Times Book Prizes to Honor Jane Smiley and Access Books

Los Angeles Times Book Prizes

The 44th annual awards will recognize outstanding literary achievements in 13 categories, including the new prize for achievement in audiobook production, with winners to be announced on April 19


The Los Angeles Times today announced the finalists and honorees for the 44th annual Book Prizes. Jane Smiley will receive the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement and Access Books will be honored with the Innovator’s Award. Additionally, Claire Dederer will be presented with the Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose.

The Book Prizes recognize 66 exceptional works in 13 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 19 at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, on the eve of the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which will take place the weekend of April 20-21.

Jane Smiley, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “A Thousand Acres,” will receive the 2023 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement, which recognizes a writer with a substantial connection to the American West. In addition to being an accomplished novelist, Smiley has written short fiction, nonfiction and several books for young adults.


“We are thrilled to celebrate L.A.-born Jane Smiley’s incredible writing life,” said Times Associate Director of Events and Book Prizes Administrator Ann Binney. “Whether it’s her epic reimagining of King Lear in ‘A Thousand Acres,’ exploring campus life at Moo University in the hilarious ‘Moo,’ or her insightful writing about her beloved horses for readers of all ages, Smiley’s work brings a deeper understanding of the American landscape and the people (and creatures) that inhabit it.”

Some of Smiley’s acclaimed work includes “The Greenlanders” and the Last Hundred Years Trilogy: “Some Luck,” “Early Warning” and “Golden Age.” She has received countless accolades during her career, including the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature.

The 2023 Innovator’s Award, which spotlights efforts to bring books, publishing and storytelling into the future, will be presented to Access Books. The nonprofit organization will be honored for its work renovating school libraries and ensuring that underserved students and communities have access to quality literacy resources.

“The work Access Books does in creating comfortable and welcoming environments for students to explore literacy and the world of books is incredibly important and has lasting effects,” said Times Interim Executive Editor Terry Tang. “We know that reading ability is directly related to access to books. We are thrilled to honor Access Books with the Innovator’s Award as it continues to improve libraries in the communities that need it the most.”

Bestselling author and essayist Claire Dederer is the winner of the 2023 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose for “Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma,” which expands on her popular 2017 essay in the Paris Review titled “What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?” Sponsored by the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the award honors exceptional work and encompasses fiction, travel writing, memoir and diary.

“Claire Dederer’s ‘Monsters,’ a book-length expansion of an essay on the problematic relationship between masculinity and fame, considers how we come to love art made by less than perfect humans,” commented the judges of the Isherwood Prize. “Dederer engages the essayist form at its best and the result is both critical, literary and provocative. We can love art despite hating the artist, Dederer’s breathtaking sentences argue, but it always comes with a cost. The judges are delighted to give this prize to such an extraordinary writer.”


New this year, the Book Prizes will feature the Achievement in Audiobook Production award, given in collaboration with Audible. The prize focuses on performance, production and innovation in storytelling, and recognizes a person or an ensemble cast.

The Book Prizes recognize titles in the following categories: audiobooks (presented by Audible), 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, science and technology, and young adult literature. Judging panels of writers who specialize in each genre select finalists and winners.

For more information about the Book Prizes, including the complete list of 2023 finalists and past winners; eligibility and judging information; and how to make a tax-deductible donation in support of the annual literary awards, go to Tickets to attend the Book Prizes ceremony, including festival 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 and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles (#bookfest).