“What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories” by Lesley Nneka Arimah, “The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea” by Jack E. Davis and “The Marrow Thieves” by Cherie Dimaline have all won the fourth annual Kirkus Prize, it was announced Thursday night.
Each winner receives a cash prize of $50,000, making the Kirkus Prize one of the richest annual literary awards in the world.
This year’s winners were chosen from the 1,272 titles that received a starred review from Kirkus over the past year. A panel of judges composed of nationally respected writers and highly regarded booksellers, librarians, and Kirkus critics, select the Kirkus Prize finalists and winners each year.
Arimah’s” What It Means...” took the fiction prizes. Said the judges in a statement: “’What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky’ is a kaleidoscopic and emotionally powerful collection that displays remarkable range, shifting from a dystopian exploration of a futuristic society to the interplay between mothers and daughters and to the legacy of the violent political struggles of Nigeria’s past.”
The fiction judges were Kirkus critic and author Mark Athitakis, bookseller and NAIBA board member Hannah Oliver Depp, and writer Meg Wolitzer.
Judges called Davis’ book on the Gulf of Mexico “a groundbreaking history...animated by deft, vivid portraits of men and women who saw in the Gulf a source of sustenance, inspiration, and, not least, wealth.” The judges for non-fiction are 2016 National Book Award winner Ibram X. Kendi, Book Table manager Javier Ramirez, and Kirkus critic and author Linda Simon.
They were equally thrilled with Dimaline’s “The Marrow Thieves” and her creation of a “world where dreams are harvested by those who continue to oppress the Indigenous peoples of North America...She vividly demonstrates the intrinsic value and critical importance of knowing how your culture makes you who you are.”
Librrarian and former president of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Jos N. Holman, writer and 2015 Kirkus Prize winner Pam Muñoz Ryan and Kirkus critic and librarian Laura Simeon. were the young reader’s judges.
The Kirkus Prize was created in 2014. Previous winners of the Kirkus Prize include Susan Faludi, Hanya Yanagihara, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roz Chast.