2015 Winners

A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 10, 2015

"The phrase 'tour de force' could have been invented for this audacious novel."
Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives. Read full book review >
BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 8, 2015

"This moving, potent testament might have been titled 'Black Lives Matter.' Or: 'An American Tragedy.'"
The powerful story of a father's past and a son's future. Read full book review >
ECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 24, 2015

"A grand narrative that examines the power of music to inspire beauty in a world overrun with fear and intolerance, it's worth every moment of readers' time. (Historical fiction. 9-14)"
A multilayered novel set in turbulent times explores music's healing power. Read full book review >
A MANUAL FOR CLEANING WOMEN by Lucia Berlin
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 18, 2015

"A testament to a writer whose explorations of society's rougher corners deserve wider attention."
A posthumous collection of stories, almost uniformly narrated by hard-living women, that makes a case for the author as a major talent. Read full book review >
THE INCARNATIONS by Susan Barker
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 18, 2015

"Effortlessly blends the past with the present, dark humor with profound sadness. A deeply human masterpiece."
A letter from a mysterious stalker upends the life of a Beijing taxi driver in Barker's (The Orientalist and the Ghost, 2009, etc.) stunning epic, which spans a thousand years of Chinese history and six lifetimes of betrayal.Read full book review >
FATES AND FURIES by Lauren Groff
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 15, 2015

"An intricate plot, perfect title, and a harrowing look at the tie that binds."
An absorbing story of a modern marriage framed in Greek mythology. Read full book review >
THE STORY OF MY TEETH by Valeria Luiselli
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 15, 2015

"A clever philosophical novel that, as the author puts it, has 'less to do with lying than surpassing the truth.'"
A lively, loopy experimental novel rich with musings on language, art, and, yes, teeth. Read full book review >
THE BOOK OF ARON by Jim Shepard
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 12, 2015

"Ordinary people reveal dimensions that are extraordinarily cruel or kind."
An understated and devastating novel of the Warsaw ghetto during the Nazi occupation, as seen through the eyes of a street-wise boy. Read full book review >
WHIRLWIND by John Ferling
NON-FICTION
Released: May 5, 2015

"A first-rate historian's masterful touch conveys the profound changes to colonists' 'hearts and minds.'"
From servants to citizens: a nuanced study of the American Revolution focused on how the war changed the way Americans saw themselves. Read full book review >
H IS FOR HAWK by Helen Macdonald
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: March 3, 2015

"Whether you call this a personal story or nature writing, it's poignant, thoughtful and moving—and likely to become a classic in either genre."
An inspired, beautiful and absorbing account of a woman battling grief—with a goshawk. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Nov. 13, 2014

"A lucid, first-rate history of the results of a war whose beginning a century ago we are busily commemorating."
A vigorously defended argument that the war to end all wars was really the origin of a new world order and American superpower. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Oct. 27, 2015

"Winchester's passionate research—on sea and land—undergirds this superb analysis of a world wonder that we seem hellbent on damaging."
The preternaturally curious writer about everything from the Oxford English Dictionary to volcanoes to the Atlantic Ocean (Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories, 2010, etc.) returns with a series of high-resolution literary snapshots of the Pacific Ocean.Read full book review >
THE INVENTION OF NATURE by Andrea Wulf
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Sept. 8, 2015

"Humboldt was the Einstein of the 19th century but far more widely read, and Wulf successfully combines a biography with an intoxicating history of his times."
Engrossing biography of "a visionary, a thinker far ahead of his time," who "revolutionized the way we see the natural world." Read full book review >
THE NEW SMALL PERSON by Lauren Child
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 10, 2015

"How nice to see a familiar story made new with a family of color and a little brother as hero. (Picture book. 3-7)"
A familiar theme—a big brother feels displaced by a new baby—seems fresh in Child's latest. Read full book review >
LILLIAN'S RIGHT TO VOTE by Jonah Winter
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 14, 2015

"A much-needed picture book that will enlighten a new generation about battles won and a timely call to uphold these victories in the present. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8)"
In a book commemorating the Voting Rights Act of 1965, readers are introduced to 100-year-old black Alabaman Lillian, who recalls her long-delayed journey to exercise her American right to vote 50 years ago. Read full book review >
FUNNY BONES by Duncan Tonatiuh
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 25, 2015

"Following on his Sibert Honor-winning Separate Is Never Equal (2014), Tonatiuh further marks himself as a major nonfiction talent with this artistically beautiful and factually accessible offering that effectively blends artistic and political content for young readers. (Picture book/biography. 7-13)"
Tonatiuh's Mixtec-influenced illustrations make an apt complement to this picture-book biography of one of Mexico's most beloved artists, José Guadalupe Posada. Read full book review >
THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH by Martha Brockenbrough
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 28, 2015

"Race, class, fate and choice—they join Love and Death to play their parts in Brockenbrough's haunting and masterfully orchestrated narrative. (Magical realism. 12 & up)"
A lovingly realized Depression-era Seattle becomes the field of play for the latest round in the titular, age-old game. Read full book review >
SHADOWSHAPER by Daniel José Older
YOUNG ADULT
Released: June 30, 2015

"Warm, strong, vernacular, dynamic—a must. (Urban fantasy. 14-18)"
When walking corpses—and worse—show up in the city, a teen discovers family secrets and ancestral powers. 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 November 1, 2015, and October 31, 2016 (see FAQ for exceptions), are automatically nominated for the 2016 Kirkus Prize, and the winners will be selected on November 3, 2016, by an esteemed panel composed of nationally respected writers and highly regarded booksellers, librarians and Kirkus critics.