The 42nd Annual L.A. Times Book Prizes will be awarded in person on Friday, April 22, 2022, at Bovard Auditorium, USC.
Today's most notable authors will be recognized at L.A.’s preeminent literary awards show honoring the best books of 2021! Stay tuned to this space for more details on the 2021 finalists, to be announced on February 23, 2022, and for tickets to the in-person ceremony.
The 2020 L.A. Times Book Prizes were awarded in a virtual ceremony on April 16, 2021. Please see all the finalists below with links to purchase books and click the "view honorees here" button to see the winners in each category and all the authors speaking about their books.
For more about the Book Prize program, click here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Knock at Midnight: A story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom by Brittany K. Barnett
Waiting for an Echo: The Madness of Incarceration 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
South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War by Alice Baumgartner
The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values by Brian Christian
The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another by Ainissa Ramirez
The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir by Sara Seager
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Lakewood: A Novel by Megan Giddings
The City We Became: A Novel (The Great Cities Trilogy, 1) by N. K. Jemisin
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda, Polly Barton (translator)