2014 Winners

EUPHORIA by Lily King
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 3, 2014

"A small gem, disturbing and haunting."
King (Father of the Rain, 2010, etc.) changes the names (and the outcome) in this atmospheric romantic fiction set in New Guinea and clearly based on anthropologist Margaret Mead's relationship with her second and third husbands, R.F. Fortune and Gregory Bateson—neither a slouch in his own right. Read full book review >
CAN'T WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE PLEASANT? by Roz Chast
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 6, 2014

"A top-notch graphic memoir that adds a whole new dimension to readers' appreciation of Chast and her work."
A revelatory and occasionally hilarious memoir by the New Yorker cartoonist on helping her parents through their old age. Read full book review >
AVIARY WONDERS INC. by Kate Samworth
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 4, 2014

"For children and their bird-watching parents, who will appreciate the clever premise and the message of admiration. (Picture book. 10 & up)"
A catalog of bird parts and instructions for making your own in a sadly possible future in which living birds have nearly disappeared. Read full book review >
THE PAYING GUESTS by Sarah Waters
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 16, 2014

"Waters keeps getting better, if that's even possible after the sheer perfection of her earlier novels."
An exquisitely tuned exploration of class in post-Edwardian Britain—with really hot sex. Read full book review >
THE BLAZING WORLD by Siri Hustvedt
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 11, 2014

"Blazing indeed: not just with Harry's fury, but with agonizing compassion for all of wounded humanity."
An embittered female artist plays a trick on critics that goes badly awry in Hustvedt's latest (The Summer Without Men, 2011, etc.). Read full book review >
ALL OUR NAMES by Dinaw Mengestu
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 4, 2014

"Weighted with sorrow and gravitas, another superb story by Mengestu, who is among the best novelists now at work in America."
What's in a name? Identity of a kind, perhaps, but nothing like stability, and perhaps nothing like truth. So Mengestu (How to Read the Air, 2010, etc.) ponders in this elegiac, moving novel, his third. Read full book review >
FLORENCE GORDON by Brian Morton
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 23, 2014

"Always a pleasure to read for his well-drawn characters, quiet insight and dialogue that crackles with wit, Morton here raises his own bar in all three areas. He also joins a sadly small club of male writers who have created memorable heroines."
Unexpected celebrity and long-absent family members distract a heroically cantankerous 1960s-era activist in the summer of 2009 as she reluctantly confronts the challenges of age. Read full book review >
THE REMEDY FOR LOVE by Bill Roorbach
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 14, 2014

"Lyrical, reserved and sometimes unsettling—and those are the happier moments. Another expertly delivered portrait of the world from Roorbach (Life Among Giants, 2012, etc.), that poet of hopeless tangles."
A closely observed meditation on isolation and loneliness "in a world in which no social problem was addressed till it was a disaster." Read full book review >
JONATHAN SWIFT by Leo Damrosch
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 5, 2013

"A rich and rewarding portrait of an irreplaceable genius."
A feisty, first-class life of the sage and scourge of English Literature. Read full book review >
THE SIXTH EXTINCTION by Elizabeth Kolbert
NON-FICTION
Released: Feb. 11, 2014

"A highly significant eye-opener rich in facts and enjoyment."
New Yorker staff writer Kolbert (Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, 2006, etc.) returns with a deft examination of the startling losses of the sixth mass extinction occurring at this moment and the sobering, underlying cause: humans. Read full book review >
THE LAGOON by Armand Marie Leroi
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 25, 2014

"A wide-ranging, delightful tour de force."
Leroi (Evolutionary Development Biology/Imperial Coll. London; Mutants:On the Form, Variety and Errors of the Human Body, 2003) calls on his expertise and his experience as a BBC science presenter to explain why Aristotle's writings on science are still relevant today. Read full book review >
CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY by Thomas Piketty
NON-FICTION
Released: March 10, 2014

"Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to work explaining the most complex of ideas, foremost among them the fact that economic inequality is at an all-time high—and is only bound to grow worse."
A French academic serves up a long, rigorous critique, dense with historical data, of American-style predatory capitalism—and offers remedies that Karl Marx might applaud. Read full book review >
JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson
NON-FICTION
Released: Oct. 21, 2014

"Emotionally profound, necessary reading."
A distinguished NYU law professor and MacArthur grant recipient offers the compelling story of the legal practice he founded to protect the rights of people on the margins of American society. Read full book review >
THE RIGHT WORD by Jen Bryant
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 15, 2014

"In a word: marvelous! (Picture book/biography. 6-10)"
After award-winning collaborations about poet William Carlos Williams and artist Horace Pippin, Bryant and Sweet return to investigate the life of Peter Mark Roget. Read full book review >
EL DEAFO by Cece Bell
Kirkus Star
by Cece Bell, illustrated by Cece Bell
Released: Sept. 2, 2014

"Worthy of a superhero. (Graphic memoir. 8 & up)"
A humorous and touching graphic memoir about finding friendship and growing up deaf. Read full book review >
THE KEY THAT SWALLOWED JOEY PIGZA by Jack Gantos
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 2, 2014

"Dark, funny and pawzzz-i-tively brilliant. (Fiction. 10-13)"
Joey takes on his toughest set of challenges yet in this heart-rending, triumphant series finale. Read full book review >
THE STORY OF OWEN by E.K. Johnston
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: March 1, 2014

"It may '[take] a village to train a dragon slayer,' but it takes an exceptional dragon slayer to deserve a village—and a storyteller—like this one. (Fantasy. 12-18)"
In an alternate world where humans and dragons battle over fossil fuels, the tale of one slayer and his bard becomes a celebration of friendship, family, community and calling. Read full book review >
THE FREEDOM SUMMER MURDERS by Don Mitchell
YOUNG ADULT
Released: April 29, 2014

"Essential. (Nonfiction. 12-16)"
A 50th-anniversary examination of the Mississippi murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner and their aftermath. Read full book review >

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ABOUT THE KIRKUS PRIZE

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 81 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large. Books that earned the Kirkus Star with publication dates between Sept. 1, 2016 to Aug. 31, 2017 (see FAQ for exceptions), are automatically nominated for the 2017 Kirkus Prize, and the winners will be selected on November 2, 2017, by an esteemed panel composed of nationally respected writers and highly regarded booksellers, librarians and Kirkus critics.