T.C. Boyle, LeVar Burton lead L.A. Times Book Prizes

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The 35th annual L.A. Times Book Prizes are announced today. There are five finalists in 10 categories, and two prize winners were revealed: The Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement will be presented to author T.C. Boyle, and LeVar Burton will be honored with the Innovators Award for inspiring generations of readers with Reading Rainbow. The awards will be presented Saturday, April 18, in conjunction with the L.A. Times Festival of Books April 18-19.

Boyle, a novelist and short story writer, is one of the West’s most prominent authors. His latest novel, out this month, is “The Harder They Come”; his books include “The Women,” “Drop City,” “The Tortilla Curtain,” “East Is East” and “The Road to Wellville.” Born and raised in New York and a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, Boyle is the recipient of numerous national and international literary prizes. He was a key figure in establishing the creative writing department at USC, where he has taught since 1978.

“T.C. Boyle has had a long-standing presence as both a writer and a teacher in the Southern California literary world,” L.A. Times book critic David L. Ulin said in a release announcing the award. “His stature within our community is unique, from the breadth of his novels and stories to his engagement with his students and role as a mentor.”



Burton will receive the Innovators Award for his work with Reading Rainbow. The actor hosted and created the television show, which broadcast on PBS for more than two decades; after the show ended, he worked to secure the rights so he could create an app and school program to reach new generations of beginning readers. A wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to bring Reading Rainbow to disadvantaged students raised more than $5 million from more than 100,000 donors.

Finalists for 10 categories of prizes were announced: biography, current interest, fiction, graphic novel, history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science and technology, the Art Seidenbaum award for first fiction, and young adult literature.

The winners will be announced at the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, which will be April 18 on the campus of USC and are open to the public. Tickets go on sale March 17; details can be found online at

The complete list of finalists is below.


Adam Begley, “Updike” (HarperCollins)

Robert M. Dowling, “Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts” (Yale University Press)

Kirstin Downey, “Isabella: The Warrior Queen” (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)

Stephen Kotkin, “Stalin: Volume 1 - Paradoxes of Power 1878-1928” (The Penguin Press)

Andrew Roberts, “Napoleon: A Life” (Viking)

Current Interest


Atul Gawande, “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books)

Jeff Hobbs, “The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League” (Scribner)

Bryan Stevenson, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” (Spiegel & Grau)

Matt Taibbi, “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap” (Spiegel & Grau)

Héctor Tobar, “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)


Donald Antrim, “The Emerald Light in the Air: Stories” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Jesse Ball, “Silence Once Begun” (Pantheon)

Siri Hustvedt, “The Blazing World” (Simon & Schuster)

Jenny Offill, “Dept. of Speculation” (Knopf)

Helen Oyeyemi, “Boy, Snow, Bird” (Riverhead)

Graphic Novel

Roz Chast, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir” (Bloomsbury)

Jaime Hernandez, “The Love Bunglers” (Fantagraphics)

Mana Neyestani, “An Iranian Metamorphosis” (Uncivilized Books)

Olivier Schrauwen, “Arsène Schrauwen” (Fantagraphics)

Mariko Tamaki (author) and Jillian Tamaki (illustrator), “This One Summer” (First Second)



Judith Flanders, “The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London” (Thomas Dunne Books)

Mark Harris, “Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War” (The Penguin Press)

Walter Isaacson, “The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution” (Simon & Schuster)

Adam Tooze, “The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931” (Viking)

Lawrence Wright, “Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David” (Knopf)



Tom Bouman, “Dry Bones in the Valley” (W. W. Norton & Company)

Peter Heller, “The Painter” (Knopf)

Laura Lippman, “After I’m Gone” (William Morrow)

Shawn Lawrence Otto, “Sins of Our Fathers” (Milkweed Editions)

Peter Swanson, “The Girl With a Clock for a Heart” (William Morrow)


Gillian Conoley, “Peace” (Omnidawn)

Katie Ford, “Blood Lyrics: Poems” (Graywolf)

Peter Gizzi, “In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems, 1987-2011” (Wesleyan University Press)

Fred Moten, “The Feel Trio” (Letter Machine Editions)

Claudia Rankine, “Citizen: An American Lyric” (Graywolf)

Science & Technology

Michael Benson, “Cosmigraphics: Picturing Space Through Time” (Abrams)

Martin J. Blaser, MD, “Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues” (Henry Holt and Co.)

Naomi Klein, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate” (Simon & Schuster)

Elizabeth Kolbert, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” (Henry Holt and Co.)

Christian Rudder, “Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking)” (Crown Publishers)

The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction


Diane Cook, “Man v. Nature: Stories” (HarperCollins)

John Darnielle, “Wolf in White Van” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Valeria Luiselli, “Faces in the Crowd” (Coffee House Press)

Eimear McBride, “A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing” (Coffee House Press)

David James Poissant, “The Heaven of Animals: Stories” (Simon & Schuster)

Young Adult Literature

Paul Fleischman, “Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines” (Candlewick)

Candace Fleming, “The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia” (Schwartz & Wade/Random House Children’s)

E.K. Johnston, “The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim” (Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing)

Andrew Smith, “Grasshopper Jungle” (Dutton Children’s Books)

Jacqueline Woodson, “Brown Girl Dreaming” (Nancy Paulsen Books)

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