The 41st annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes were awarded in a live-streamed virtual ceremony last Friday. The awards are presented in 12 categories; 56 books were shortlisted overall.
“The pandemic has upended every single aspect of our lives, but I suspect many of you will agree with me that it’s only deepened our appreciation for the solitary pleasure of reading,” said Boris Kachka, books editor of the Los Angeles Times, who hosted the virtual event. “[Reading] is solitary but of course it’s communal, too, because in reading we communicate with socially-distanced writers and all their characters, real or invented. We may isolate, but as long as we have books we are never isolated.”
Joining Kachka in announcing the awards were several of the judges for the prizes, including Tananarive Due, who judged the Ray Bradbury Prize for science fiction; Jenny McPhee, judge for the fiction prize; and Angie Wang, judge for the graphic novel/comics prize.
The 2020 Book Prize winners are as follows:
- Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction: Deesha Philyaw, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (West Virginia University Press)
- Biography: William Souder, Mad at the World: A Life of John Steinbeck (Norton)
- Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose: Andrew O’Hagan, Mayflies (Faber & Faber)
- Current Interest: Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (Random House)
- Fiction: David Diop and Anna Moschovakis (translator), At Night All Blood Is Black: A Novel (FSG)
- Graphic Novel/Comics: Bishakh Som, Apsara Engine (Feminist Press)
- History: Martha S. Jones, Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All (Basic Books)
- Mystery/Thriller: S.A. Cosby, Blacktop Wasteland (Flatiron Books)
- Poetry: Victoria Chang, Obit (Copper Canyon Press)
- Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction: Stephen Graham Jones, The Only Good Indians (Gallery/Saga Press)
- Science & Technology: Sara Seager, The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir (Crown)
- Young Adult Literature: Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam, Punching the Air (Balzer + Bray)
In addition to the book prizes, Leslie Marmon Silko was honored with the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) received the Innovator’s Award.
The Book Prizes awards ceremony precedes the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which started April 17 and will run through April 23.