2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Winners

Biography
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Current Interest
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Winner
  • Dave Eggers, Zeitoun (McSweeney’s Books)
Runners Up
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Fiction
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Winner
Runners Up
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Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
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Winner
Runners Up
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Graphic Novel
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Winner
Runners Up
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History
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Winner
Runners Up
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Mystery / Thriller
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Winner
Runners Up
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Poetry
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Winner
Runners Up
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Science & Technology
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Winner
Runners Up
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Young Adult Literature
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Winner
Runners Up
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2009 Innovator’s Award
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Winner

eggersThe Innovator’s Award recognizes the people and institutions that are doing cutting edge work to bring books, publishing and storytelling into the future, whether in terms of new business models, new technologies or new applications of narrative art.

Dave Eggers has always been an innovator. From his early days at Might Magazine – where he and his partners poked smart fun at the excesses of 1990s culture – to his ongoing work with McSweeney’s, the publishing house he runs in San Francisco, he has shown a refreshing disregard for conventional wisdom, whether it has to do with what he publishes, how he publishes or that he is a publisher at all. To be sure, publishing was not something he needed to do; his first book, the memoir “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” became a bestseller upon its release in 2000 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Were Eggers another kind of writer, this might have been enough for him, but writing is just one of the things he does. In 1998, he founded the literary journal McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern; the success of “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” allowed him to turn McSweeney’s into a full-fledged independent press, publishing writers from Stephen Dixon and Robert Coover to Lawrence Weschler, Art Spiegelman and William T. Vollmann. Eggers has not only built an editorial model to support these efforts, but a business model as well. What’s more, in an era when too many in the media seem to want to give up on print altogether, McSweeney’s books, along with their magazines and other publications, are beautiful: elaborately designed, a pleasure to hold and look at, a three-dimensional reading experience in the best sense of the word.

Equally important is Eggers’ involvement in 826 National, which he co-founded in 2002. These eight urban non-profit centers – including two in Los Angeles – are dedicated to fostering literacy in kids 6-18, and work with students on everything from homework to college essays, while encouraging them to produce books and anthologies. More to the point, they offer a place to gather, helping to create communities in which literature is not just important but fun.

Through it all, Dave Eggers continues to function as an inspirational role model, producing his own books – his latest, “Zeitoun,” is a finalist for this year’s Current Interest Book Prize – and other projects, including the screenplay for last year’s film adaptation of “Where the Wild Things Are.”

He is exactly the kind of person the Innovator’s Award is intended to honor: a forward thinker who is not afraid of print, but also not afraid to look ahead to the future, and who is drawing a new generation of writers and readers to the written word.

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2009 Robert Kirsch Award
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Winner

connellEvan S. Connell has been recognized by readers, critics and scholars as an American original, “our most subversive writer,” a compassionate contrarian, the author of “fiction in extremis,” and a “gloriously insidious philosopher of our true heritage.” His novels, short stories, essays and poems range across centuries and continents, focusing sometimes on the great events of history and other times on the secret moments of a private life, and often both at once, but always conjuring up what has been aptly called a kind of “dangerous magic.”

Whether his eye falls on the Crusades, or the battle of Little Big Horn, or the more intimate conflicts that characterize a marriage and a family, Connell brings to bear on all of his subjects a penetrating insight that, as one critic puts it, “flips the known world on its head.” Now living in Santa Fe, he has journeyed in prose and poetry from Kansas City, Missouri, the setting of Mr. Bridge and Mrs. Bridge, perhaps his most celebrated works, to beaches of Carmel and all the way to Uttar Pradesh. In recognition of a distinguished body of work by a writer residing in or writing about the West, the Los Angeles Times presents Evan S. Connell with the 30th Robert Kirsch Award. 

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