41st Annual L.A. Times Book Prize Virtual Ceremony Friday, April 16th, 5pm PT!

Celebrate today's most notable authors at L.A.’s preeminent literary awards show honoring the best books of 2020! The awards ceremony will be held virtually on Friday, April 16m 5pm PT. Stay tuned to this space for more details on the ceremony.

You may buy the finalists' books by clicking the links in the category headings below. The Times may earn a commission from Bookshop whose fees support independent bookstores.

Robert Kirsch Award

Leslie Marmon Silko

Leslie Marmon Silko was born in 1948 to a family whose ancestry includes Mexican, Laguna Indian, and European forebears. She has said that her writing has at its core “the attempt to identify what it is to be a half-breed or mixed-blood person.” As she grew up on the Laguna Pueblo Reservation, she learned the stories and culture of the Laguna people from her great-grandmother and other female relatives. After receiving her B. A. in English at the University of New Mexico, she enrolled in the University of New Mexico law school but completed only three semesters before deciding that writing and storytelling, not law, were the means by which she could best promote justice. Prior to the publication of Ceremony in 1977, she published short stories and authored  Laguna Woman: Poems, for which she received the Pushcart Prize. She followed the critical success of Ceremony with a series of other novels, including Storyteller, Almanac for the Dead, and Gardens in the Dunes. It was the singular achievement of Ceremony that first secured her a place among the first rank of Native American novelists.

Innovator’s Award

The Book Industry Charitable Organization (Binc)

The Book Industry Charitable Organization (BINC) is a nonprofit that coordinates charitable programs to strengthen the bookselling community. Binc's core program provides assistance to employees and shop owners who have a demonstrated financial need arising from severe hardship and/or emergency circumstances. Since its inception, the organization has provided over $9 million in financial assistance and scholarships to more than 9000+ families. Support for Binc’s programs and services comes from all sectors of the book and comic industries. Their mission is to strengthen the bookselling and comic retail community through charitable programs that support employees and their families. The Foundation was imagined and built by booksellers and continues to be their safety net.

The Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose

Mayflies by Andrew O'Hagan

In a classically shaped story based on events in his own life, Andrew O'Hagan masterfully captures a particular time and place: Glasgow during the 1980s, with its post-punk music and the Thatcher era. This is the story of two young men and one seminal night during their lives, culminating in a dramatic ending that leaves readers stunned with admiration and equally awed by the fierce, determined courage of the leading character named Tully. There is also a universality among the themes: youth, and the time when everything is an agony but when it feels that anything might yet happen. The throb of the possible, and the shimmery future, and always, alongside, the bigger question of freewill. In keeping with the legacy of Christopher Isherwood, Andrew O'Hagan's prose is accessible and engaging, distinctive and original. Funny, well-paced and elegant, Mayflies is a  striking achievement in the career of its author, and the judges universally agreed that this novel was a superior and satisfying work of fiction in every single way.

 

Biography


FINALISTS

Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark

Warhol by Blake Gopnik

Eleanor by David Michaelis

The Dead are Arising by Les Payne & Tamara Payne

Mad at the World: A Life of John Steinbeck by William Souder

Current Interest


FINALISTS

A Knock at Midnight: A story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom by Brittany K. Barnett

Waiting for an Echo by Christine Montross, M.D.

Separated: Inside an American Tragedy by Jacob Soboroff

The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Fiction


FINALISTS

What Happens at Night by Peter Cameron

At Night All Blood Is Black: A Novel by David Diop, Anna Moschovakis (Translator)

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories by Danielle Evans

Likes by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum