2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winners
- Linda Gordon, Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits (W.W. Norton & Co.)
- Kirstin Downey, The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)
- Michael Scammell, Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth Century Skeptic (Random House)
- Melvin Urofsky, Louis D. Brandeis: A Life (Pantheon)
- Kenneth Whyte, The Uncrowned King: The Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst (Counterpoint Press)
- Dave Eggers, Zeitoun (McSweeney’s Books)
- Dave Cullen, Columbine (TWELVE/Hachette Book Group)
- Tracy Kidder, The Strength in What Remains (Random House)
- Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (Knopf)
- T.R. Reid, The Healing of America: The Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Healthcare (The Penguin Press)
- Rafael Yglesias, A Happy Marriage (Scribner)
Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
- Philipp Meyer, American Rust (Spiegel & Grau)
- David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp (Pantheon)
- Gilbert Hernandez, Luba (A Love and Rockets Book) (Fantagraphics Books)
- Taiyo Matsumoto, GoGo Monster (VIZ Media)
- Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe (Oni Press)
- Joe Sacco, Footnotes in Gaza (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Co., LLC)
- Kevin Starr, Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance 1950 – 1963 (Oxford University Press)
- Richard Holmes, Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (Pantheon)
- Martha A. Sandweiss, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line (The Penguin Press)
- Amy Louise Wood, Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940 (University of North Carolina Press)
- Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic 1789 – 1815 (Oxford University Press)
Mystery / Thriller
- Stuart Neville, The Ghosts of Belfast (SOHO Press)
- Brenda Hillman, Practical Water (Wesleyan University Press)
Science & Technology
- Graham Farmelo, The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom (Basic Books/Perseus Book Group)
- Marcia Bartusiak, The Day We Found the Universe (Pantheon)
- Bill Streever, Cold: Adventures in the Worlds’ Frozen Places (Little, Brown & Company)
- Richard Wrangham, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human (Basic Books/Perseus Book Group)
- Carol Kaesuk Yoon, Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science (W.W. Norton & Co)
Young Adult Literature
- Elizabeth Partridge, Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don’t You Grow Weary (Viking Children’s Books/Penguin Group)
- James Cross Giblin, The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy (Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
- Frances Hardinge, The Lost Conspiracy (HarperCollins)
- Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwin’s Leap of Faith (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers)
- Shaun Tan, Tales from Outer Suburbia (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
2009 Innovator’s Award
The 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.
2009 Robert Kirsch Award
Evan 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.