Books Honored with The Kirkus Prize

The Kirkus Prize Seal

First awarded in 2014, The Kirkus Prize is one of the richest literary awards in the world, with a prize of $50,000 bestowed annually to authors of fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature. It was created to celebrate the 86 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large. Books that earn the Kirkus Star are automatically nominated for the Kirkus Prize. The Kirkus Prize judges select three winners each year in October. Below are books written by writers of African descent.


9 Books Honored with The Kirkus Prize in 2020

Winner - Fiction

Luster
by Raven Leilani

Publication Date:
List Price: $26.00
Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780374194321
Imprint: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publisher: Macmillan
Parent Company: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck
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Book Description: 

Sharp, comic, disruptive, tender, Raven Leilani’s debut novel, Luster, sees a young black woman fall into art and someone else’s open marriage

Edie is stumbling her way through her twentiessharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She’s also, secretly, haltingly figuring her way into life as an artist. And then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriagewith rules. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscapes of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics weren’t hard enough, Edie finds herself unemployed and falling into Eric’s family life, his home. She becomes hesitant friend to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie is the only black woman young Akila may know.

Razor sharp, darkly comic, sexually charged, socially disruptive, Luster is a portrait of a young woman trying to make her sense of her life in a tumultuous era. It is also a haunting, aching description of how hard it is to believe in your own talent and the unexpected influences that bring us into ourselves along the way.


Winner - Nonfiction

Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream
by Mychal Denzel Smith

Publication Date:
List Price: $26.00
Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9781568588735
Imprint: Bold Type Books
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Parent Company: Hachette Livre
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Book Description: 
A New York Times bestselling writer’s bold vision for how to move past crisis mode and build a country that lives up to its promise of liberty, justice, and equality.
"We are better than this" has been the rallying cry since Donald Trump was elected. But as New York Times-bestselling author Mychal Denzel Smith shows, Americans are too comfortable imagining our greatness. We like to believe in the rightness of our path and the inevitability of choosing our better angels. But historically, we’ve only come close to living up to the ideals we profess after we’ve been dragged, kicking and screaming, toward justice. Growth only happens when we confront our deceptions and our own complicity in them.

In Stakes Is High, Smith exposes the contradictions at the heart of American life - between patriotism and justice, between freedom and inequality, incarceration, police violence. In a series of incisive essays, Smith holds us to account individually and as a nation. He examines his own shortcomings, grapples with the anxiety of feeling stuck, and looks in new directions for the tools to build a just America. He questions whether Martin Luther King, Jr. can ever really be the hero we need in our time, untangles the persistent cultural power of Bill Cosby, and weighs the value of police and prison abolition.

Stakes Is High establishes Mychal Denzel Smith as a voice to be heeded as we prepare for the fight ahead.


Winner - Young Readers’ Literature

I Am Every Good Thing
by Derrick Barnes

Publication Date:
List Price: $17.99
Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Early Reader
ISBN13: 9780525518778
Imprint: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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Read a Description of I Am Every Good Thing


Book Description: 
An upbeat, empowering, important picture book from the team that created the award-winning Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

I am
a nonstop ball of energy.
Powerful and full of light.
I am a go-getter. A difference maker. A leader.

The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He’s got big plans, and no doubt he’ll see them through—as he’s creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he’s afraid, because he’s so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you—and shows you—who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!

Finalist - Fiction

Black Sunday
by Tola Rotimi Abraham

Publication Date:
List Price: $26.00
Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781948226561
Imprint: Catapult
Publisher: Catapult
Parent Company: Catapult
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Read a Description of Black Sunday


Book Description: 

"I like the idea of a god who knows what it’s like to be a twin. To have no memory of ever being alone."

Twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike are enjoying a relatively comfortable life in Lagos in 1996. Then their mother loses her job due to political strife, and the family, facing poverty, becomes drawn into the New Church, an institution led by a charismatic pastor who is not shy about worshipping earthly wealth.

Soon Bibike and Ariyike’s father wagers the family home on a "sure bet" that evaporates like smoke. As their parents’ marriage collapses in the aftermath of this gamble, the twin sisters and their two younger siblings, Andrew and Peter, are thrust into the reluctant care of their traditional Yoruba grandmother. Inseparable while they had their parents to care for them, the twins’ paths diverge once the household shatters. Each girl is left to locate, guard, and hone her own fragile source of power.

Written with astonishing intimacy and wry attention to the fickleness of fate, Tola Rotimi Abraham’s Black Sunday takes us into the chaotic heart of family life, tracing a line from the euphoria of kinship to the devastation of estrangement. In the process, it joyfully tells a tale of grace and connection in the midst of daily oppression and the constant incursions of an unremitting patriarchy. This is a novel about two young women slowly finding, over twenty years, in a place rife with hypocrisy but also endless life and love, their own distinct methods of resistance and paths to independence.


Finalist - Fiction

Book Description: 
From James McBride, author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, comes a wise and witty novel about what happens to the witnesses of a shooting.

In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project’s drug dealer at point-blank range.

The reasons for this desperate burst of violence and the consequences that spring from it lie at the heart of Deacon King Kong, James McBride’s funny, moving novel and his first since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood’s Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself.

As the story deepens, it becomes clear that the lives of the characters—caught in the tumultuous swirl of 1960s New York—overlap in unexpected ways. When the truth does emerge, McBride shows us that not all secrets are meant to be hidden, that the best way to grow is to face change without fear, and that the seeds of love lie in hope and compassion.

Bringing to these pages both his masterly storytelling skills and his abiding faith in humanity, James McBride has written a novel every bit as involving as The Good Lord Bird and as emotionally honest as The Color of Water. Told with insight and wit, Deacon King Kong demonstrates that love and faith live in all of us.

Finalist - Nonfiction

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
by Isabel Wilkerson

Publication Date:
List Price: $32.00
Format: Hardcover, 496 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780593230251
Imprint: Random House
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
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Book Description: 
The Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

"[Caste] should be at the top of every American’s reading list."—Chicago Tribune

"As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power—which groups have it and which do not."

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.

Finalist - Nonfiction

The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power
by Deirdre Mask

Publication Date:
List Price: $26.99
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9781250134769
Imprint: St. Martin’s Press
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Parent Company: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck
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Read a Description of The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power


Book Description: 

Finalist for the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction

"An entertaining quest to trace the origins and implications of the names of the roads on which we reside." —Sarah Vowell, The New York Times Book Review

When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveler won’t get lost. But street addresses were not invented to help you find your way; they were created to find you. In many parts of the world, your address can reveal your race and class.

In this wide-ranging and remarkable book, Deirdre Mask looks at the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr., the wayfinding means of ancient Romans, and how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany. The flipside of having an address is not having one, and we also see what that means for millions of people today, including those who live in the slums of Kolkata and on the streets of London. Filled with fascinating people and histories, The Address Book illuminates the complex and sometimes hidden stories behind street names and their power to name, to hide, to decide who counts, who doesn’t—and why.

"An exuberant work of popular history: the story of how streets got their names and houses their numbers, and why something as seemingly mundane as an address can save lives or enforce power. When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveler won’t get lost. But street addresses were not invented to help you find your way; they were created to find you. Addresses arose out of a grand Enlightenment project to name and number the streets, but they are also a way for people to be identified and tracked by those in power. As Deirdre Mask explains, the practice of numbering houses was popularized in eighteenth-century Vienna by Maria Theresa, leader of the Hapsburg Empire, to tax her subjects and draft them into her military. In many parts of the world, your address can reveal your race and class, causing them to be a shorthand for snobbery or discrimination. In this wide-ranging and remarkable book, Mask looks at the fate of streets named after Martin Luther King, Jr., the wayfinding means of ancient Romans, how Nazis haunt the streets of modern Germany, and why numbered streets dominate in America but not in Europe. The flipside of having an address is not having one, and we see what that means for millions of people today, including those who live in the slums of Kolkata, on the streets of London, or in post-earthquake Haiti. Filled with fascinating people and histories, The Address Book illuminates the complex and sometimes hidden stories behind street names and their power to name, to hide, to decide who counts, who doesn’t-and why"

Table of Contents:
Introduction: West Virginia: Why Should We Care About Street Addresses?

DEVELOPMENT
1. Kolkata: Could Addresses Revolutionize the Slums?
2. Haiti: Could Street Addresses Stop a Plague?

ORIGINS
3. Rome: How Did The Ancient Romans Find Their Way Around?
4. London: Where Do Our Street Names Come From?
5. Vienna: Did House Numbering Change the World?
6. Philadelphia: Why Do Americans Love Numbered Streets?
7. Korea and Japan: Does Language Explain Japan’s Lack of Street Names?

POLITICS
8. Iran: Why Do Street Names Follow Revolutions?
9. Berlin: What Do Nazi Street Names Tell Us About Vergangenheitsbewältigung?

RACE
10. Hollywood, Florida: Are Confederate Names Really About History?
11. St. Louis: What Can Martin Luther King Streets Tell Us About Race in America Today?
12. South Africa: What Should Happen to Apartheid Streets?

CLASS AND STATUS
13. Manhattan: How Much Is a Street Name Worth?
14. Homelessness: How Do You Live Without an Address?
15. Chicago: Does Everyone Deserve an Address?
Conclusion: The Future: Are Street Addresses Doomed?

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
NOTES
INDEX


Finalist - Young Readers’ Literature

Clap When You Land
by Elizabeth Acevedo

Publication Date:
List Price: $18.99
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Classification: Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
ISBN13: 9780062882769
Imprint: HarperTeen
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation
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Read a Description of Clap When You Land


Book Description: 

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.


Finalist - Young Readers’ Literature

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning
by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Publication Date:
List Price: $18.99
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
ISBN13: 9780316453691
Imprint: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Parent Company: Hachette Livre
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Read a Description of Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning


Book Description: 
The #1 New York Times bestseller and a USAToday bestseller!
A timely, crucial, and empowering exploration of racism—and antiracism—in America

This is NOT a history book.
This is a book about the here and now.
A book to help us better understand why we are where we are.
A book about race.

The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.

Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas—and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.
Download the free educator guide here: https: //www.hachettebookgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Stamped-Educator-Guide.pdf