2018 Book Prize Winners & Finalists

Robert Kirsch Award Winner

Terry Tempest Williams - Watch Video

The 2018 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement, which recognizes a writer whose work focuses on the American West, goes to Terry Tempest Williams, one of the most ardent conservationist voices of our time. Her work bridges social justice with an overall vision of humanity towards all living things. With issues of the environment and climate change becoming increasingly urgent, what better moment to recognize someone who has focused her creative life on writing about the land and fighting for environmental issues in the most elegant and articulate way.

Innovator’s Award Winner

Library of America - Watch Video

The 2018 Innovator’s Award, which spotlights cutting-edge work to bring books, publishing and storytelling into the future, will be awarded to Library of America, the non-profit publisher that champions the nation’s cultural heritage by publishing our greatest writing in volumes that encourage readers to explore America’s rich written legacy. From the writings of the Founders, the poems of Frost and Whitman, the novels of Twain and Wharton, the slave narratives of Douglass and DuBois, to the essays of Emerson, Baldwin, and Sontag, America’s multi-faceted identity is revealed. Through its public programs, digital resources and community partnerships, Library of America helps readers make meaningful connections with America’s literary legacy.

2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose

Kiese Laymon, Heavy: An American Memoir, Scribner

The 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize goes to Kiese Laymon for his mesmerizing memoir on growing up as a gifted black boy in Mississippi, raised by a brilliant, sometimes abusive, mother who demanded excellence as a way to protect her son from an America that does not easily love black men. Laymon takes the reader on his quest for radical honesty in this moment of national reckoning, writing with tender nuance and lacerating intimacy about the cruelties of love when it is corroded by fear, and the power of words to deceive and liberate.

Debby Applegate, Alex Espinoza, Victoria Redel, Diana Wagman and Rick Whitaker.

Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction

Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Heads of the Colored People: Stories, Atria / 37 INK

Katya Apekina, The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish, Two Dollar Radio
Lisa Halliday, Asymmetry, Simon & Schuster
R. O. Kwon, The Incendiaries: A Novel, Riverhead Books
Tommy Orange, There There: A Novel, Knopf

Natashia Deon, Douglas Dutton and Amy Wilentz.


David W. Blight, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, Simon and Schuster

Seymour M. Hersh, Reporter: A Memoir,  Knopf
Victoria Johnson, American Eden: David Hosack, Botany and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic, Liveright/W.W. Norton
Bob Spitz, Reagan: An American Journey, Penguin Press
Tara Westover, Educated: A Memoir, Random House

Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, Diane Smith and Henry Weinstein.

Current Interest

Francisco Cantú, The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border, Riverhead Books

John Carreyrou, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, Knopf
Michael Lewis, The Fifth Risk, W. W. Norton & Company
Michelle Obama, Becoming, Crown Publishing Group
Susan Orlean, The Library Book, Simon & Schuster

Frances Dinkelspiel, Marcus Anthony Hunter and Erin Aubrey Kaplan.


Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers: A Novel, Viking

Esi Edugyan, Washington Black, Knopf
Abby Geni, The Wildlands: A Novel, Counterpoint
Tayari Jones, An American Marriage: A Novel, Algonquin Books
Michael Ondaatje, Warlight: A Novel, Knopf

Natashia Deon, Douglas Dutton and Amy Wilentz.

Graphic Novel/Comics

Tillie Walden, On A Sunbeam, First Second

Remy Boydell/ Michelle Perez, The Pervert,  Image Comics
Eleanor Davis, Why Art?, Fantagraphics Books
Aisha Franz, Shit is Real, Drawn and Quarterly
Jérôme Ruillier, The Strange, Drawn and Quarterly

Darryl Ayo Brathwaite, Angie Wang and Mickey Zacchili.


Julia Boyd, Travelers In the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism 1919-1945, Pegasus  Books

J.H. Elliott, Scots & Catalans Union & Disunion, Yale University Press
Ruby Lal, Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan, W.W. Norton & Company
Miriam Pawel, The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation , Bloomsbury Publishing
Priya Satia, Empire of Guns: The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution, Penguin Press

Bill Boyarsky, Thulani Davis and Teofilo Ruiz.

Mystery / Thriller

Oyinkan Braithwaite, My Sister, The Serial Killer: A Novel, Doubleday

Megan Abbott, Give Me Your Hand, Little, Brown & Co.
Kent Anderson, Green Sun, Mulholland Books/Little, Brown & Co.
Lou Berney, November Road: A Novel, William Morrow
Leila Slimani, The Perfect Nanny: A Novel, Penguin Books

Steph Cha, Miles Corwin and Paula L. Woods.


Carl Phillips, Wild is the Wind: Poems, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Jos Charles, feeld, Milkweed Editions
Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, Penguin Books
Diana Khoi Nguyen, Ghost of, Omnidawn
Diane Seuss, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl: Poems, Graywolf Press

David Baker, Cyrus Cassells and Victoria Chang.

Science & Technology

Beth Macy, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America, Little, Brown and Company

Marcia Bjornerud, Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World, Princeton University Press
Rose George, Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood, Metropolitan Books
Mona Hanna-Attisha, What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City , One World
Eliza Griswold, Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Jia-Rui Cook, Robert Lee Hotz and Michelle Nijhuis.

Young Adult Literature

Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X, HarperTeen

Kelly Loy Gilbert, Picture Us in the Light, Disney-Hyperion
Claire Hartfield, A Few Red Drops:  The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Jarrett Krosoczka, Hey, Kiddo!, Graphix/Scholastic Books
Emily X.R. Pan, The Astonishing Color of After: A Novel, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Andrew Aydin, Sharon Levin and Claudette S. McLinn.

Contact Information


The Los Angeles Times presents the Book Prizes and the Festival of Books as part of its many community programs promoting literacy and education to benefit people across Southern California.

The Los Angeles Times Book Prize program has been directed since 1995 by Kenneth Turan, who was Times book editor from 1990 to 1991. He is currently the newspaper’s film critic.

For more information contact the Book Prizes’ administrator, Ann Binney, 800-LA TIMES, ext. 75775