The Richest Literary Award Kirkus Prize Announces Its Finalists

Kirkus announced the 18 finalists in three categories for the annual Kirkus Prize, one of the richest literary awards in the world.

Books that earn the Kirkus Star with publication dates between Nov. 1, 2020, and Oct. 31, 2021, are automatically nominated for the 2021 Kirkus Prize. The Kirkus Prize judges will select three winners on October 28, 2021.

Kirkus’ editors and staff evaluate each of the nominated books to determine which ones make it to the next round of consideration, which is conducted by a panel of judges.

This year, the finalists were selected from 749 young readers’ literature titles, 328 fiction titles, and 454 nonfiction titles. Over 10,000 titles were reviewed by Kirkus during this eligibility period.

Besides the honor of being named, Kirkus Prizes also come with a cash award of $50,000.


The prize has three categories: the Kirkus Prize for Fiction, the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction, and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature. Each of the three categories is composed of three highly regarded judges: a writer, a bookseller or librarian, and a Kirkus critic.

The Kirkus Prize is one of the most prestigious literary awards for authors of fiction, non-fiction, and young readers’ literature. The prize first began in 2014, and has been awarded to books like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Jason Reynolds’ As Brave as You, and Raven Leilani’s Luster.

Our judges are chosen for their intellectual curiosity, sense of fairness, and wide knowledge of literary excellence across the various genres within the category of books they’re judging.

Novelist and playwright Karen Tei Yamashita will receive the National Book Foundation’s 2021 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which honors lifetime achievement.

The Kirkus Prize was created to celebrate nearly 90 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism that Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large.

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