Nominees Are Announced for Times Book Prizes

Times Staff Writer

Nominees for the 26th annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes were announced Thursday, and the newspaper’s Robert Kirsch Award went to Joan Didion.

Didion, whose memoir “The Year of Magical Thinking” received the National Book Award for nonfiction, won The Times honor for “a living author with a substantial connection to the American West” and whose “contributions to American letters deserves special recognition.” Kirsch was the paper’s book critic for 25 years.

The nominees in nine categories were announced at the National Arts Club in Manhattan. The winners will be named April 28 in a ceremony at UCLA.


Nominees for biography are “Melville: His World and Work” by Andrew Delbanco (Alfred A. Knopf), “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon & Schuster), “Mencken: The American Iconoclast” by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers (Oxford University Press), “Matisse the Master: A Life of Henri Matisse, the Conquest of Color” by Hilary Spurling (Knopf) and “The People’s Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century” by Steven Watts (Knopf).

In current interest, the nominees are “Courtroom 302: A Year Behind the Scenes in an American Criminal Courthouse” by Steve Bogira (Knopf), “Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story” by Kurt Eichenwald (Broadway Books), “The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece” by Jonathan Harr (Random House), “Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War” by Anthony Shadid (Henry Holt) and “Still Looking: Essays on American Art” by John Updike (Knopf).

In fiction, the nominees are “The March” by E.L. Doctorow (Random House), “Veronica” by Mary Gaitskill (Pantheon Books), “Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Knopf), “A Long Way Down” by Nick Hornby (Riverhead Books) and “Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami (Knopf).

Nominees for the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction are “Garner” by Kirstin Allio (Coffee House Press), “A Sudden Country” by Karen Fisher (Random House), “The Dream Life of Sukhanov” by Olga Grushin (Marian Wood/Putnam), “Beasts of No Nation” by Uzodinma Iweala (HarperCollins) and “John Crow’s Devil” by Marlon James (Akashic Books).

In history, the nominees are “Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia: 1941-1945” by Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper (Belknap Press/Harvard University Press), “The Third Reich in Power” by Richard J. Evans (Penguin Press), “Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves” by Adam Hochschild (Houghton Mifflin), “Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945” by Tony Judt (Penguin Press) and “The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln” by Sean Wilentz (W.W. Norton).

The nominees in mystery and thriller are “The Lincoln Lawyer” by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown), “The Right Madness” by James Crumley (Viking), “Ash & Bone” by John Harvey (Harcourt), “Legends: A Novel of Dissimulation” by Robert Littell (Overlook Press) and “Strange Affair” by Peter Robinson (William Morrow/HarperCollins).


In poetry, the nominees are “Refusing Heaven” by Jack Gilbert (Knopf), “Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems” by Gail Mazur (University of Chicago Press), “The Cachoeira Tales and Other Poems” by Marilyn Nelson (Louisiana State University Press), “Luck Is Luck” by Lucia Perillo (Random House) and “Pennyweight Windows” by Donald Revell (Alice James Books).

Th science and technology nominees are “Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom by Sean B. Carroll (W.W. Norton), “Ice: The Nature, the History and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance” by Mariana Gosnell (Knopf), “Descent: The Heroic Discovery of the Abyss” by Brad Matsen (Pantheon), “The Republican War on Science” by Chris Mooney (Basic Books) and “Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima” by Diana Preston (Walker & Co.).

In young adult fiction, the nominees are “Looking for Alaska” by John Green (Dutton/Penguin Young Readers Group), “Black Juice” by Margo Lanagan (Eos/HarperCollins Children’s Books), “You & You & You” by Per Nilsson (Front Street/Boyds Mills Press), “The Center of the World” by Andreas Steinhofel (Delacorte Press/Random House Children’s Books) and “I Am the Messenger” by Markus Zusak (Knopf/Random House Children’s Books).