Times Book Prize winners named

Times Staff Writer

A haunting novel about the Israeli victim of a suicide bombing, a provocative biography of Walt Disney and a probing analysis of the 9/11 attacks were among the winners of the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, announced Friday evening at UCLA.

The awards ceremony, hosted by author and PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer, honored books in nine categories. A final prize, the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement, was given to author and memoirist William Kittredge. The annual award, named in honor of The Times’ late, longtime book critic, honors a living writer whose work focuses on the Western United States and who has made a distinguished contribution to American letters.

The evening ceremony at Royce Hall marked the 27th anniversary of the book awards and kicked off this weekend’s two-day Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA.

In fiction, Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua won for “A Woman in Jerusalem,” translated from Hebrew by Hillel Halkin (Harcourt); other finalists were David Mitchell’s “Black Swan Green” (Random House); Peter Orner’s “The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo” (Little, Brown); Susan Straight’s “A Million Nightingales” (Pantheon Books); and Daniel Woodrell’s “Winter’s Bone” (Little, Brown).


Neal Gabler’s “Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination” (Alfred A. Knopf) won the award for biography. Other finalists included Debby Applegate’s “The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher” (Doubleday); Rodney Bolt’s “The Librettist of Venice: The Remarkable Life of Lorenzo Da Ponte, Mozart’s Poet, Casanova’s Friend, and Italian Opera’s Impresario in America (Bloomsbury USA); Jeffrey Goldberg’s “Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide” (Knopf); and Daniel Mendelsohn’s “The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million” (HarperCollins).

The award for history went to Lawrence Wright’s “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" (Knopf); his book also won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. Finalists included Taylor Branch’s biography of Martin Luther King “At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68" (Simon & Schuster); Niall Ferguson’s “The War of the World: Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West” (Penguin Press); Nathaniel Philbrick’s “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War” (Viking); and John Tayman’s “The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai,” the story of leprosy sufferers on the Hawaiian island (Lisa Drew/Scribner).

Each Book Prize includes a $1,000 cash award. Other winners included:

Current interest: Ian Buruma’s “Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance” (Penguin).

Mystery/thriller: Michael Connelly’s “Echo Park” (Little, Brown).

The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction: Alice Greenway for “White Ghost Girls” (Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic).

Young Adult Fiction: Coe Booth’s “Tyrell” (Push/Scholastic).

Science and Technology: Eric R. Kandel for “In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind” (W.W. Norton).


Poetry: Frederick Seidel for “Ooga-Booga” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).