Here are the 2016 L.A. Times Book Prize winners


Since 1980, the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes have honored the previous year's best books and their authors at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

In addition to previously announced winners Juan Felipe Herrera and James Patterson, this year's event highlighted some of 2015's best and brightest works, including novels, biographies and poems covering a variety of topics including assassinations and drug cartels, and lost environments and unsung environmentalists. This year's ceremony — the 36th annual — took place at Bovard Auditorium on the USC campus on Saturday. 

Live coverage of the L.A. Times' annual #bookfest>>

Here are this year's winners:

Isamu Noguchi's famous stone sculpture garden in Costa Mesa. (Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times)
(Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times)


Hayden Herrera, "Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

"Stone" presents a portrait of the well-traveled and highly influential Japanese American artist and designer who specialized in what he dubbed the "sculpturing of space."

The other finalists in this category:

  • Terry Alford, "Fortune's Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth," Oxford University Press
  • Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs, "Jonas Salk: A Life," Oxford University Press 
  • Patrick McGilligan, "Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane," HarperCollins
  • John Norris, "Mary McGrory: The First Queen of Journalism," Viking

Current Interest

Sarah Chayes, "Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security" (W. W. Norton and Co.)

The former reporter and Joint Chiefs of Staff adviser zeroes in on the roots and effect of widespread corruption in global governments. 

Sarah Chayes' TED Talk: How government corruption is a precursor to extremism

The other finalists in this category:

  • Joe Domanick, "Blue: The LAPD and the Battle to Redeem American Policing," Simon & Schuster
  • Sam Quinones, "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic," Bloomsbury Press
  • Sandy Tolan, "Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land," Bloomsbury USA
  • Stephen Witt, "How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy," Viking


Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina MacSweeney, "The Story of My Teeth" (Coffee House Press).

"Teeth" is Luiselli's "novel-essay" that follows a retired Mexican auctioneer on a quest for new teeth. 
Read The Los Angeles Times review>

Valeria Luiselli (Alfredo Pelcastre / Coffee House Press)
(Alfredo Pelcastre / Coffee House Press)

The other finalists in this category:

  • Anne Enright, "The Green Road," W. W. Norton and Co.
  • James Hannaham, "Delicious Foods," Little, Brown and Co.
  • Adam Johnson, "Fortune Smiles," Random House
  • Helen Phillips, "Beautiful Bureaucrat," Henry Holt and Co.

Graphic Novel/Comics

Riad Sattouf, "Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A Graphic Memoir" (Metropolitan Books)

The first volume of a planned trilogy, "Arab" reflects on the author's childhood in troubled times, growing up under the rule of Libya's Moammar Kadafi, Syria's President Bashar Assad and, most significantly, his own father.
Read The Los Angeles Times review>

Riad Sattouf (Olivier Marty / Henry Holt / Metropolitan Books)
(Olivier Marty / Henry Holt / Metropolitan Books)

The other finalists in this category:

  • Sam Alden, "New Construction: Two More Stories," Uncivilized Books
  • Julian Hanshaw, "Tim Ginger," Top Shelf Productions, an imprint of IDW Publishing
  • Maggie Thrash, "Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir," Candlewick
  • Carol Tyler, "Soldier's Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father: A Daughter's Memoir (You'll Never Know)," Fantagraphics


Dan Ephron, "Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel" (W. W. Norton and Co.)

Ephron's deeply researched tome recounts the events of Rabin's assassination and how it affected Middle Eastern geopolitics.
Read an excerpt from "Killing a King">

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's grave at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem on Nov. 7, 1995, a day after the funeral service. (Santiago Lyon / Associated Press)
(Santiago Lyon / Associated Press)

The other finalists in this category:

  • Mary Beard, "SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome," Liveright/W. W. Norton and Co.
  • Jonathan M. Bryant, "Dark Places of the Earth: The Voyage of the Slave Ship Antelope," Liveright/W. W. Norton and Co.
  • David Maraniss, "Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story," Simon & Schuster
  • Mark Molesky, "This Gulf of Fire: The Destruction of Lisbon, or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason," Alfred A. Knopf


Don Winslow, "The Cartel" (Alfred A. Knopf)

Winslow's follow-up to "The Power of the Dog" continues his unflinching look at the ongoing war on drugs, in what James Ellroy called "the 'War and Peace' of dopewar books."
Read The Los Angeles Times interview with Winslow> 

Don Winslow (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

The other finalists in this category:

  • Lou Berney, "The Long and Faraway Gone," William Morrow
  • Viet Thanh Nguyen, "The Sympathizer," Grove Press
  • Brian Panowich, "Bull Mountain," G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • Richard Price, "The Whites," Henry Holt & Co.


Jorie Graham, "From the New World: Poems 1976-2014" (Ecco/HarperCollins)

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Graham helped redefine American poetry in the postwar era and into the new millennium. Her style's evolution is reflected in this collection, which covered nearly 40 years of work.

“From the New World” (HarperCollins)

The other finalists in this category:

  • Rick Barot, "Chord," Sarabande Books
  • Robin Coste Lewis, "Voyage of the Sable Venus," Alfred A. Knopf
  • Fiona Sze-Lorrain, "The Ruined Elegance," Princeton University Press
  • Jean Valentine, "Shirt in Heaven," Copper Canyon Press

Statue of Alexander von Humboldt in central Berlin. (Markus Schreiber / Associated Press)
(Markus Schreiber / Associated Press)

Science and Technology

Andrea Wulf, "The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World" (Alfred A. Knopf).

A look at the life and legacy of  the 18th century German naturalist who helped change the way we look at the world around us and helped inspire the rise of environmentalism.
Read Andrea Wulf's op-ed in the Los Angeles Times>

The other finalists in this category:

  • John Markoff, "Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots," Ecco/HarperCollins
  • David J. Morris, "The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Beth Shapiro, "How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction," Princeton University Press
  • Jonathan Waldman, "Rust: The Longest War," Simon & Schuster

"The Fisherman" (Little, Brown and Co.)

The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction

Chigozie Obioma, "The Fishermen" (Little, Brown and Co.)

The Nigerian-born writer's debut novel centers on four brothers whose bonds are tested when they come across an ominous prophecy. 

The other finalists in this category:

  • Sarah Gerard, "Binary Star," Two Dollar Radio
  • Ben Metcalf, "Against the Country," Random House
  • Sara Novic, "Girl at War," Random House
  • Andrew Roe, "The Miracle Girl," Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

"My Seneca Village" (namelos)

Young Adult Literature

Marilyn Nelson, "My Seneca Village" (namelos)

Nelson's collection of poems takes place in an imagined version of the titular New York City neighborhood -- a multiethnic community significant for its African American population -- which was bulldozed in 1857, in order to make way for Central Park. 

The other finalists in this category:

  • Don Brown, "Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans," Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
  • Jason Reynolds, "The Boy in the Black Suit," Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Laura Amy Schlitz, "The Hired Girl," Candlewick
  • Steve Sheinkin, "Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War," Roaring Brook Press

Innovator’s Award

James Patterson

Bestselling author and philanthropist Patterson has written or co-written 152 books, including the popular Alex Cross thrillers. In 2015 he launched a series of YA books and a website that aims to get children excited about reading. 
Read The Los Angeles Times interview with Patterson>

Author James Patterson at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Author James Patterson at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Robert Kirsch Award

Juan Felipe Herrera

The U.S. poet laureate has written more than 30 books, including the poetry collections "Notes of the Assemblage" and "187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border." Herrera was awarded the L.A. Times Book Prize's 2015 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement.
Read The Los Angeles Times interview with Herrera>

Poet Juan Felipe Herrera. (Tomas Ovalle / For The Times)
Poet Juan Felipe Herrera. (Tomas Ovalle / For The Times)
(Tomas Ovalle / For The Times)