Kirkus Prize Judges

Each panel is composed of an author, a bookseller or librarian, and a Kirkus critic.

FICTION
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

Chang-rae Lee , Author

Chang-rae Lee is the author of five novels, including Native Speaker, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, and The Surrendered, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for fiction. His most recent novel was On Such a Full Sea, which was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. His new novel, My Year Abroad, will be published by Riverhead Books in early 2021. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Stanford. 

Veronica Santiago Liu, Bookseller

Veronica Santiago Liu is the founder and general coordinator of the 60-person collective that operates Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria, a nonprofit bookstore and community space in Washington Heights, New York. Prior to that she was a contributing editor at Seven Stories Press, where she worked as managing then senior editor for more than a decade. Veronica currently sits on the American Booksellers Association’s Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and in 2018 she was a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree. Previously she has served as a judge for CLMP’s Firecracker Award for Fiction and for the Story Prize. Her writing, comics, and photography have been published in Broken PencilQuick FictionIn/Context, and other journals and zines. 

Amy Reiter, Critic

Amy Reiter has written about books and other topics for publications including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, the Daily Beast, the Barnes & Noble Review and Salon, where she was a longtime staff writer and editor. Her work has been anthologized in several books and garnered her appearances on CNN, MSNBC, and other news outlets. A Kirkus fiction reviewer, Amy also writes frequently about food for the Food Network and entertainment for the LA TimesThe Envelope.

NONFICTION

Kiese Laymon, Author

Kiese Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon, the Ottillie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi, is the author of Long Division, How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and Heavy: An American Memoir.

Nick Buzanski, Bookseller

Nick Buzanski is an independent bookseller of almost 20 years.  He has worked at Green Apple Books in San Francisco, Strand Bookstore in New York, and was the general manager at the flagship Book Culture store before joining Books Are Magic in Brooklyn as general manager.

Erika Rohrbach, Critic

Erika Rohrbach reviews adult nonfiction, children’s books, and young adult literature for Kirkus. By day, she directs international student services at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Active in the international education community, she is the recipient of a number of awards, among them a Fulbright to Japan and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service. Erika has a variety of interests and has published on immigration topics relating to college students, as well as on H.D., Sappho, Carlyle, and Stein. She is also an avid choral singer and sits on the boards of the Dessoff Choirs and New York Choral Consortium.

YOUNG READERS’ LITERATURE

Nicola Yoon, Author

Nicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star. She is a National Book Award finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient, and a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner. Both her novels have been made into major motion pictures. Nicola grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn and lives in Los Angeles with her family.

Roxanne Hsu Feldman, Librarian

Roxanne Hsu Feldman has been a children’s and school librarian for more than 25 years. Originally from Taiwan, she received a master’s degree in children’s literature from Simmons College, Boston, and an MLS from Long Island University. Roxanne is passionate about analyzing children’s books and has served on several award committees, including the Newbery and Boston Globe/Horn Book awards. For the third year, she co-runs School Library Journal’s “Mock Newbery” blog, Heavy Medal, and encourages open conversations about books and award criteria. 

Kyle Lukoff, Critic

Kyle Lukoff has worked at the intersection of books and people for over half his life. He started as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble and then worked as the librarian at Corlears School in New York City. He is also the Stonewall Award–winning author of When Aidan Became A Brother, as well as the Max and Friends series, Explosion at the Poem Factory, the forthcoming middle-grade novel Too Bright To See, and other books.

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  • The Kirkus Star

    One of the most coveted designations in the book industry, the Kirkus Star marks books of exceptional merit.

  • The Kirkus Prize

    The Kirkus Prize is among the richest literary awards in America, awarding $50,000 in three categories annually.

    See the 2019 winners.

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