Attn: Calendar Editors

Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalists Announced
21st annual literary awards to be presented April 28

LOS ANGELES, March 5, 2001 – The Los Angeles Times announced the finalists for the 21st annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, which will be awarded at a public ceremony to be held April 28 at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles.

The 45 Book Prize finalists were announced during a March 2 reception at the National Arts Club in New York hosted by Los Angeles Times Associate Editor Narda Zacchino; Kenneth Turan, director of the Book Prizes and Times film critic; and Times Book Editor Steve Wasserman.

Prize-winning author and NPR contributor Sandra Tsing Loh will emcee the Book Prize awards ceremony, which is the highlight of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, to be held April 28-29 on the UCLA campus.

At the ceremony, The Times will announce the first winner of the Book Prize in the Mystery/Thriller category. The award was established last year to recognize the increased stature and popularity of the mystery/thriller genre. Any mystery/thriller book having its first U.S. publication in 2000 was eligible for the award.

The Book Prizes – which include a $1,000 cash award – are presented in nine categories: biography, current interest, fiction, first fiction, history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science and technology, and young adult fiction.

In addition to the nine categories, the annual Robert Kirsch Award will recognize the body of work of an author who resides in or whose work focuses on the Western United States. The award is named after the late Robert Kirsch, who served as The Times’ book critic for more than 25 years prior to his death in 1980. There are no finalists for this category. The winner also will be announced April 28.

Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalists


  • H.W. Brands, The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (Doubleday)
  • William J. Cooper, Jr., Jefferson Davis, American (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • Ian Kershaw, Hitler, 1936-1945: Nemesis (W.W. Norton)
  • Philip Short, Mao: A Life (a John Macrae Book, Henry Holt)

Current Interest

  • Ian Buruma, The Missionary and the Libertine: Love and War in East and West (Random House)
  • Frances FitzGerald, Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War (Simon & Schuster)
  • Sherwin B. Nuland, The Mysteries Within: A Surgeon Reflects on Medical Myths (Simon & Schuster)
  • S.L. Price, Pitching around Fidel: A Journey into the Heart of Cuban Sports (HarperCollins/Ecco)
  • Patrick Tierney, Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon (W.W. Norton)


  • Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: A Novel (Random House)
  • Peter Ho Davies, Equal Love: Stories (Houghton Mifflin)
  • David Means, Assorted Fire Events: Stories (Context Books)
  • Philip Roth, The Human Stain (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Joy Williams, The Quick & the Dead (Alfred A. Knopf)

The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction (category added in 1991)

  • Helen DeWitt, The Last Samurai: A Novel (Talk Miramax Books)
  • Matthew Klam, Sam the Cat and Other Stories (Random House)
  • Pankaj Mishra, The Romantics: A Novel (Random House)
  • Akhil Sharma, An Obedient Father (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Zadie Smith, White Teeth: A Novel (Random House)


  • Shareen Blair Brysac, Resisting Hitler: Mildred Harnack and the Red Orchestra (Oxford University Press)
  • Tim Judah, Kosovo: War and Revenge (Yale University Press)
  • Alice Kaplan, The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach (University of Chicago Press)
  • Alexander Keyssar, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (Basic Books)
  • Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (Viking)

Mystery/Thriller (category added in 2000)

  • James Lee Burke, Purple Cane Road: A Novel (Doubleday)
  • Michael Dibdin, Blood Rain: An Aurelio Zen Mystery (Pantheon)
  • Val McDermid, A Place of Execution: A Novel (St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur)
  • George P. Pelecanos, Shame the Devil: A Novel (Little, Brown)
  • Peter Robinson, Cold Is the Grave: A Novel of Suspense (William Morrow)


  • Anne Carson, Men in the Off Hours (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • Michael Collier, The Ledge: Poems (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Nick Flynn, Some Ether (Graywolf Press)
  • Carl Phillips, Pastoral (Graywolf Press)
  • Gjertrud Schnackenberg, The Throne of Labdacus (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Science and Technology (category added in 1989)

  • David Bodanis, E=MC2: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation (Walker and Company)
  • James Le Fanu, M.D., The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine (Carroll & Graf)
  • Dennis Overbye, Einstein in Love (A Scientific Romance) (Viking)
  • Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters (HarperCollins)
  • Karl Sabbagh, A Rum Affair: A True Story of Botanical Fraud (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Young Adult Fiction (category added in 1998)

  • Adam Bagdasarian, Forgotten Fire (DK Publishing)
  • Carolyn Coman, Many Stones (Front Street)
  • Pam Muñoz Ryan, Esperanza Rising (Scholastic)
  • Lori Aurelia Williams, When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
  • Jacqueline Woodson, Miracle’s Boys (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers)

Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists were selected by eight three-member committees. (Fiction category judges also choose the First Fiction finalists.) Most of the judges are published authors and serve a two-year term. None of the judges, except for the Kirsch award, are Los Angeles Times employees.

There is no nationality requirement for author nominees in any category. With the exception of significant new translations of a deceased author’s work, all authors should be living at the time of U.S. publication.

The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, established in 1980, recognize outstanding literary achievements in nine categories: biography, current interest, fiction, first fiction, history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science and technology, and young adult fiction. The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction commemorates the work of the late Times book editor and Book Prize program founder.

The Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing company, is the largest metropolitan newspaper in the country and the winner of 24 Pulitzer Prizes. The Times publishes four daily regional editions covering the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Orange and Ventura counties and the San Fernando Valley, as well as an Inland Valley section and a National Edition.