2019 Book Prize Winners & Finalists

Robert Kirsch Award Winner

Walter Mosley

The 2019 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement recognizes Walter Mosley's vast contributions to the literature of the American West. The author of more than 43 books crossing various genres from mysteries to science fiction to political essays and more, he is perhaps best known for his 14-volume series featuring detective Easy Rawlins, a Black private detective living in South Central Los Angeles.

Innovator’s Award Winner

Keren Taylor
Founder, WriteGirl

The 2019 Innovator's Award honors WriteGirl's exceptional work over nearly 20 years matching professional women mentors with teen girls to promote self-expression and empowerment through writing. WriteGirl brings creativity, critical thinking and leadership skills to teenage girls who do not otherwise have access to creative writing or mentoring programs.

2019 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose

Emily Bernard
Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother's Time, My Mother's Time, and Mine 

Sponsored by the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, this award honors Emily Bernard's exceptional work in "Black is the Body." In this stunning collection of 12 deeply personal, connected essays, Bernard details the experience of growing up black in the south and sets out to discover a new way of talking about race and of telling the truth as she has lived it.


Debby Applegate, Domingo Martinez, Victoria Redel, Oscar Villalon and Diana Wagman.

Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction

Namwali Serpell The Old Drift: A Novel (Hogarth)

Mari­a Gainza, trans. Thomas Bunstead Optic Nerve (Catapult)
Lila Savage Say Say Say: A Novel (Knopf)
Sarah Elaine Smith Marilou is Everywhere (Riverhead Books)
De'Shawn Charles Winslow In West Mills (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Natashia Deon, Rick Whitaker and Amy Wilentz.


George Packer
Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century (Knopf)


Leo Damrosch The Club: Johnson, Boswell and the Friends Who Shaped an Age (Yale University Press)
Victoria Riskin Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir (Pantheon)
Yuval Taylor Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal (W. W. Norton & Company)
Evan Thomas First: Sandra Day O'Connor (Random House)

Marcus Anthony Hunter, Tom Nolan and Marion Elizabeth Rodgers.

Current Interest

Emily Bazelon Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration (Random House)

Mark Arax The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California (Knopf)
Ronan Farrow Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators (Little, Brown and Company)
Dina Nayeri The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You (Catapult)
Rachel Louise Snyder No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Sandy Banks, Bill Boyarsky and Celeste Fremon.


Ben Lerner The Topeka School: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Tash Aw We, The Survivors: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Madeline Ffitch Stay and Fight: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Maaza Mengiste The Shadow King: A Novel (W. W. Norton & Company)
Colson Whitehead The Nickel Boys: A Novel (Doubleday)

Natashia Deon, Rick Whitaker and Amy Wilentz.

Graphic Novel/Comics

Eleanor Davis The Hard Tomorrow (Drawn and Quarterly)


Michael DeForge Leaving Richard’s Valley (Drawn and Quarterly)
Jaime Hernandez Is This How You See Me (Fantagraphics)
Keum Suk Gendry-Kim Grass (Drawn and Quarterly)
Mariko Tamaki & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me (First Second)

James Kuo, Charles Solomon and Angie Wang.


Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South (Yale University Press)


Toby Green A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (University of Chicago Press)
Charles King Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century (Doubleday)
Sarah Milov The Cigarette: A Political History (Harvard University Press)
David Treuer The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present (Riverhead Books)

Anna-Lisa Cox, Thulani Davis and Laurent Dubois.

Mystery / Thriller

Steph Cha Your House Will Pay (Ecco)

Michael Connelly The Night Fire (Little, Brown and Company)
Jane Harper The Lost Man (Flatiron Books)
Laura Lippman Lady in the Lake (William Morrow)
Attica Locke Heaven, My Home (Mulholland Books)

Oline Cogdill, Michael Nava and Paula L. Woods.


Ilya Kaminsky Deaf Republic: Poems (Graywolf Press)

Reginald Dwayne Betts Felon: Poems (W.W. Norton & Company)
Sally Wen Mao Oculus: Poems (Graywolf Press)
Mary Ruefle Dunce (Wave Books)
Carmen Giménez Smith Be Recorder: Poems (Graywolf Press)

Cyrus Cassells, Victoria Chang and Adriana Ramirez.

Science & Technology

Maria Popova Figuring (Pantheon)

Katherine Eban Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom (Ecco)
Adam Higginbotham Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster (Simon & Schuster)
Caroline Criado Perez Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men (Harry N. Abrams)
Angela Saini Superior: The Return of Race Science (Beacon Press)

Jia-Rui Cook, Robert Lee Hotz and Erika Check Hayden.

The Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction

Marlon James Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy) (Riverhead Books)

Ted Chiang Exhalation: Stories (Knopf)
Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone This is How You Lose the Time War (Gallery / Saga Press)
Brian Evenson Song for the Unraveling of the World (Coffee House Press)
Namwali Serpell The Old Drift: A Novel (Hogarth)

Tananarive Due, Kelly Link and Tim Pratt.

Young Adult Literature

Malla Nunn When the Ground is Hard (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers)

Laurie Halse Anderson Shout (Viking Children's Books)
A.S. King Dig. (Dutton Books for Young Readers)
Thanhha Lai Butterfly Yellow (HarperCollins Books for Young Readers)
Randy Ribay Patron Saints of Nothing (Kokila/Penguin Young Readers)

Andrew Aydin, Hannah Gomez and Christina Vortia.

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.

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