The prizes are given to books in 12 categories, and are typically announced during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, held in the spring of each year. Due to the pandemic, the festival was cancelled and rescheduled for October 3-4.
Penguin Random House brought home half of this year's prizes, while three others went to imprints of the other Big Five publishers and another three went to indie or academic presses. The book prize winners are as follows:
- Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction: Namwali Serpell, The Old Drift (Hogarth)
- Biography: George Packer, Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century, (Knopf)
- Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose: Emily Bernard, Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine (Knopf)
- Current Interest: Emily Bazelon, Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration (Random House)
- Fiction: Ben Lerner, The Topeka School (FSG)
- Graphic Novel/Comics: Eleanor Davis, The Hard Tomorrow (Drawn & Quarterly)
- History: Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers, They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South (Yale University Press)
- Mystery/Thriller: Steph Cha, Your House Will Pay (Ecco)
- Poetry: Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic (Graywolf)
- Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction: Marlon James, Black Leopard, Red Wolf (Riverhead)
- Science and Technology: Maria Popova, Figuring (Knopf)
- Young Adult Literature: Malla Nunn, When the Ground is Hard, (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)
Each prize announcement was accompanied by a short video of the winner’s speech, all of which were shared on social media. The complete list of 2019 Book Prizes finalists and previous winners are available here.
This article has been updated to reflect the earlier announcement of the prizes.