Quick: Who won this year’s Chautauqua Prize? How about the George Washington Prize or the Bellwether Prize? Can you name a single Spur, Lammy or RITA winner?

I didn’t think so.

Britain’s Man Booker judges considered Americans this year for the first time, but neither of the two U.S. novels on the short­list (Karen Joy Fowler’s “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves” and Joshua Ferris’s “To Rise Again at a Decent Hour”) has been elevated to the bestseller list by that news.

At a time when even the National Book Awards struggle for attention, is there room for yet another literary prize on an already crowded shelf of honors?

Kirkus, the publishing industry trade magazine, is betting yes. In May, the editors announced a new set of annual awards with an enormous kitty of $150,000. All that cash comes from Herbert Simon, the real estate magnate who bought the fading magazine in 2010.

On Tuesday, Kirkus announced the finalists for its first prizes — 18 books in fiction, nonfiction and young readers’ literature. The winner in each of the three categories will receive $50,000, making it one of the largest literary awards in the world. (The Pulitzer Prize for fiction — perhaps the only literary prize that attracts significant reader interest — is a mere $10,000.)

Here are the Kirkus finalists:


●“The Blazing World,” by Siri Hustvedt (Simon & Schuster).

●“Euphoria,” by Lily King (Grove/Atlantic).

●“All Our Names,” by Dinaw Mengestu (Knopf).

●“Florence Gordon,” by Brian Morton (Houghton Mifflin).

●“The Remedy for Love,” by Bill Roorbach (Algonquin, forthcoming Oct. 14).

●“The Paying Guests,” by Sarah Waters (Riverhead).


●“Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury).

●“Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World,” by Leo Damrosch (Yale).

●“The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” by Elizabeth Kolbert (Holt).

●“The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science,” by Armand Marie Leroi (Viking).

●“Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” by Thomas Piketty (Harvard).

●“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau, forthcoming Oct. 21).

Young Readers’ Literature:

Picture Books:

●“The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus,” by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet (Eerdmans).

●“Aviary Wonders Inc.: Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual,” by Kate Samworth (Clarion).

Middle Grade:

●“El Deafo,” by Cece Bell (Amulet/Abrams).

●“The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza,” by Jack Gantos (Farrar Straus Giroux).

Young Adult:

●“The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim,” by E.K. Johnston (Carolrhoda).

●“The Freedom Summer Murders,” by Don Mitchell (Scholastic).

All books published from Nov. 1, 2013 to Oct. 31, 2014 that received a starred review in Kirkus — more than 1,000 titles — were eligible for consideration.

The three Kirkus winners will be announced at a ceremony in Austin on Oct. 23.