African-American writers top the field of Kirkus Prize nominees

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Colson Whitehead and Honorée Fanonne Jeffers are two of the finalists

African-American writers topped the field of finalists for the eighth annual Kirkus Prize, announced Monday.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead is shortlisted in the fiction category for his highly anticipated heist novel, Harlem Shuffle, while critically acclaimed poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers got the green light for her widely acclaimed fiction debut, WEB Du Bois love songs.

Jeffers’ epic literary novel is also an Oprah Book Club choice and a blockbuster phenomenon that quickly sold out its first print run. Harlem Shuffle is Whitehead’s 10th book and his first in the detective genre.

Nominees Colson Whitehead, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers (Credit: Whitehead official site, Jeffers Facebook page)

The finalists include 18 books in the three categories honored by Kirkus: fiction, non-fiction and literature for young readers. Other African-American authors recognized today include Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, another first author nominated in fiction for her eclectic collection of short stories My Monticello, which Whitehead called “A badass start in every way – nimble, knowing and electrifying.”

In non-fiction, Pittsburgh’s Brian broome is nominated for his first coming-of-age memoir, Hit me to the gods, and professor and historian at Harvard University Tiya miles collected his nod for All She Wore: Ashley’s Sack Journey, A Memory of the Black Family.

In the Young Reader’s Literature category which includes picture books, mid-level books, and young adult titles, three African-American writers were on the list.

Seasoned author, poet and youth critic Carole Boston Weatherford is nominated for Unnamable: the massacre of the Tulsa race, which makes this important story accessible to children. Nikki grimes is nominated for the beautifully illustrated collection of poetry, Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance, which highlights lesser-known black poets of the time.

Medalist Coretta Scott King Sharon G. Flake earned him a wink for The life I’m in, a sequel that explores the psyche and formative experiences of the antagonist of his beloved 1998 novel The skin I’m in.

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Although the Kirkus Awards are relatively new to the literary arena, having been founded in 2014, they are among the most lucrative in the industry. There is a total of $ 150,000 for the three winners in three categories.

With the announcement, the editor of Kirkus Reviews Tom beer praised the diversity of the field, noting that the mission of the Kirkus Prize, like Kirkus Reviews, is to recognize books that “deserve the greatest number of readers possible.”

In recent years, this list has included a diverse group of writers, including notable authors like Whitehead, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and in 2020, first novelist Raven Leilani, who won for Chandelier.

Kirkus Reviews is a driving force in the publishing industry, covering over 10,000 books each year, and is widely read by policymakers, including booksellers and librarians, as well as avid readers and enthusiasts. books of all kinds.

Finalists are chosen by a panel of four expert judges from various aspects of the book industry, including authors, booksellers, librarians, and Kirkus’ own reviewers and editors.

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