Lily King was named the winner of the first Kirkus Prize for fiction for her fourth novel, Euphoria, based on an incident in the life of groundbreaking anthropologist Margaret Mead. In a ceremony held in Austin on October 23, Kirkus Reviews, a publishing trade magazine much relied-upon by booksellers, critics, and others for its advance reviews, awarded prizes for Fiction, Nonfiction, and Young People’s Literature. [My review of Euphoria is here. Lily King’s essay on her uniquely hand-crafted writing process, published just this Monday, Oct. 20, is here.]
Roz Chast, a staff cartoonist for The New Yorker, won the Nonfiction prize for her illustrated memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Her book made the shortlist for the National Book Award, which will be awarded on November 15.
Kate Samworth won the Young People’s Literature award for her unique creation, Aviary Wonders, Inc: Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual, in which readers can order a custom-made bird.
The three authors will each receive a $50,000 prize, one of the richest in literature.
The judges raved about Euphoria, lauding its “perfect construction, its economy and originality, and its fearlessness.” Chast’s memoir stood out for its “heartbreaking beauty” and her use of “cartoons, family photos, sketches, documents and text to explore a profoundly human issue: the death of one’s parents.” And Samworth’s inventive book, intended for children 8-11 years old was called “by far one of the most creative books we have ever encountered.”
Kirkus fiction editor Laurie Muchnick explained that the fiction prize judges “wanted to find a book that they could recommend to everybody they knew, one they all loved and that they wanted to press on people.”