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Here are the finalists for the 2020 Kirkus Prize.

Rasheeda Saka

September 9, 2020, 9:00am

This morning, Kirkus Reviews announced its 18 finalists for this year’s Kirkus Prize in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Young Readers’ Literature.

The finalists were selected by a panel of judges from the pool of titles that received Kirkus Stars in the last year—this amounts to 352 fiction titles, 395 nonfiction titles, and 629 young readers’ literature titles, out of the more than 10,000 total books reviewed during the same period. (!) This year’s judges include Chang-rae Lee, Kiese Laymon, and Nicola Yoon.

“This has been an unprecedented and challenging year for authors, publishers, booksellers, and librarians,” says Kirkus Reviews editor-in-chief Tom Beer in a press release. “We’re thrilled that the Kirkus Prize can help bring attention to 18 books of exceptional merit that deserve the widest possible readership. The diversity and timeliness of all the finalists speak to our present moment, but they will endure as lasting works of literature.”

The winner in each category will receive a prize of $50,000. Previous winners include Colson Whitehead, Ling Ma, and Derrick Barnes.


2020 Kirkus Prize Finalists


Tola Rotimi Abraham, Black Sunday

Juliana Delgado Lopera, Fiebre Tropical

Elena Ferrante, tr. Ann Goldstein, The Lying Life of Adults

Raven Leilani, Luster

James McBride, Deacon King Kong

Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain



Eric Jay Dolin, A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of America’s Hurricanes

Rebecca Giggs, Fathoms: The World in the Whale

Deirdre Mask, The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power

Aimee Nezhukumatathil, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

Mychal Denzel Smith, Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream

Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents


Young Readers’ Literature 

Picture Books

 Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James, I Am Every Good Thing

Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade, We Are Water Protectors 

Middle Grade

Hanna Alkaf, The Girl and the Ghost 

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Fighting Words 

Young Adult

Elizabeth Acevedo, Clap When You Land 

Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped From the Beginning


The three winners of the 2020 Kirkus Prize will be announced at a special virtual ceremony via the Austin Public Library in Austin, Texas on Thursday, November 5 at 5:00pm (Central) / 6:00pm (Eastern).

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